The Week Ahead: It's the end of another term…

11-09-2017

The constituency period beckons, with MPs due to depart at the end of the week and return to Parliament on 3 October 2017. But a fair amount of heavy-duty business will be done before they go.

The committee corridor will be the main source of parliamentary action, where there are several hearings on important issues and detailed legislating.

Beyond this, a number of committees have scheduled oversight visits during this week. The purpose of these visits are to test the authenticity of the information provided by the departments and entities they oversee. It’s also an opportunity to obtain first-hand knowledge from people engaged in the direct implementation of specific programmes and to interact with stakeholders. Some of the planned visits are to front-line service sites, gold mines and to check bulk water infrastructure.

There are no sittings scheduled in the NA but over in the upper chamber, the two main highlights are the question sessions with the Deputy President and Ministers in the Governance Cluster. The leader of government business will be probed about SAA, capacitating SOEs, corruption at SANAC, unemployment, wage inequality and poverty. Meanwhile everything from vacancies in rural areas, performance in the public service and the AG’s Report on Local Government performance will be in the spotlight when the Minister’s appear.

Check the full plenary programme here

There are several headline-grabbing meetings in the committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights:

Tuesday

Earlier this year in its report on the Department of Transport’s budget vote, the Portfolio Committee on Transport observed that there appears to be differences in implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) networks, as well as difference in the allocation of grant funds to the various municipalities. In that same report, the Committee recommended that the Department should brief Parliament on the progress made on the implementation of BRT systems in the 13 cities, specifically to ascertain whether there is alignment between the budget spent, the progress made, as well as the quality of the work done and services rendered once implemented. In line with this recommendation, it will be meeting with the BRT implementing cities over three days on progress, challenges and risks faced by municipalities in implementing the BRT systems.

The Department of Basic Education will brief lawmakers on Examination Readiness. As in previous years, the presentation will deal with system readiness in preparation for the National Senior Certificate examinations as well as learner readiness.

The NDP recognises that reducing crime and violence requires far more than what the police alone can achieve. The plan contains a number of far-reaching recommendations, which, if implemented, could see dramatic improvements in policing. The Portfolio Committee on Police has arranged a meeting with the SAPS, the Civilian Secretariat for Police and Civil Society on the status of implementation of the NDP.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will hold public hearings on the International Arbitration Bill and the Legal Practice Bill.

Other legislative business includes meetings on the Refugees Amendment Bill; Border Management Authority Bill; Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill; Insurance Bill; Plant Improvement Bill and Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill. Also noteworthy is a briefing by the Department of Energy, National Energy Regulator of SA (NERSA) and ESKOM, respectively, on the electricity distribution sector.

Wednesday

Air pollution kills 20 000 people in South Africa every year, costing the economy nearly R300 million. This is according to research from the World Bank. South Africa is also the continent's worst polluter due to the coal-fired power plants that still provide most of the country’s energy. Given this reality, the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs' planned colloquium on Air Quality is fitting. The Theme is: Towards maximum compliance and implementation of Air Quality minimum standards.

The Finance Committee has set itself up for a long day with back to back meetings with SAA and SARS on their latest quarterly reports.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will hold public hearings on the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill. Among other things, the bill aims to create offences and impose penalties, criminalise the distribution of harmful data messages and to provide for interim protection orders, to further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes. Notwithstanding this, there has been criticism that the new bill “threatens our digital rights and raises the spectre of internet censorship”.

The use of and access to medical marijuana has been hotly debated and the subject of a recent court case. Legislators will be meeting with the Department of Health to discuss cannabis guidelines.

Thursday

It’s a big day for detailed legislating. Everything from copyright, cybersecurity, marine spatial planning and tax laws will be deliberated on.

See the full schedule here.

*The programme is subject to changes so the schedule needs to be checked daily for accuracy.

The constituency period will be from 18-29 September 2017. During this time, MPs have a duty to:

  • Be available to the public
  • Help solve problems
  • Report back to their constituents on what is happening in Parliament

The purpose of these periods is to encourage MPs to remain in contact with the people they represent. For more information about constituency offices, click here.

It's been a short and stuttering term with no shortage of high drama – these include the motion of confidence, the motion to dissolve Parliament, the SABC interviews, Ad hoc Political Funding Committee, and problems with the state capture investigations. Next term, the main focus will be on the annual reports, the mid-term budget and leftover legislation.

People's Assembly

"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.

We host the latest posts of this blog, written by People's Assembly. You can find more on PA's blog.

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