The Week Ahead: Legislation and Hearings top the agenda
A combination of a heavy legislative load, some important hearings and the pending recess break should mean plenty of fizz in Parliament this week.
With the NA chamber having its final sitting of the term last week and a fairly pedestrian agenda in the NCOP chamber, the major points of interest will come from high-profile hearings and detailed legislating in the Committee corridor.
In the upper chamber, delegates will conclude leftover budget policy debates as well process assorted Bills and Committee reports.
There’s lots of action in the engine rooms of Parliament (aka Committees), with a few Cabinet Ministers set to make appearances. Here is a rundown of the highlights:
PRASA will be in the hot seat when the entity appears before the Portfolio Committee on Transport to talk about its challenges. PRASA briefed the Committee in April on its annual performance plan and will be probed on the usual issues: passenger services; turnaround strategies to reduce accidents; train security; the status of new trains, refurbished trains and repairs of signalling equipment. The Committee will also meet with the Minister of Transport on the filling of board vacancies at entities of the Department. (Tuesday)
National Treasury will appear before SCOPA to give a progress update on the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) project, which is aimed at modernising and integrating all human resource and financial management systems across government. Cabinet approved a decision to replace IFMS1 (2000-2013) with IFMS 2 in Nov 2013. At a previous meeting Members wanted to know how R1 billion was spent on IFMS 1 and why IFMS 2 was then needed. Treasury informed MPs that the solution implemented had not produced the desired result and that IFMS 2 would be rolled out nationally in 2021. (Tuesday)
There is currently a process underway to examine the feasibility of amalgamating the Chapter 9 Institutions to establish a Single Human Rights Body. Last year, the Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD) and the Knowledge Information Services Division in Parliament invited the public to make submissions in this regard. Lawmakers noted that the structure, budget and reporting lines of these institutions varied widely. The OISD will brief MPs on the topic with a special reference to the Commission for Gender Equality.
The Portfolio Committee on Communications had met with the unions at the SABC a few weeks ago. Some of the key issues raised by the unions included organisational rights for minority trade unions, transparency, accountability and inclusive communication, key vacancies, understanding the mandate of the SABC and long-term contracts. The public broadcaster will respond to these issues when it meets with legislators. (Tuesday)
National Treasury will give its response to the First Report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Portfolio on Trade and Industry on the Transformation of the Financial Sector. The Report recommends that industry be compelled, including through licensing conditions, to provide the necessary information to the FS Charter Council and the newly established B-BBEE Commission. The FS Charter Council and B-BBEE Commission are to investigate whether the statistics provided are accurate. (Tuesday)
The Office of Health Standards Compliance will brief Parliament on the outcome of its inspection of health facilities. In a 2016 briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Health, the Public Service Commission reported that many of the buildings and infrastructure were dilapidated and old, needing to be replaced and refurbished urgently, and that medicines and patient folders were not secure or locked away. The staff vacancy rates in some of the hospitals - including doctor and nurses - was alarming, at around 46%, and the reasons given by the officials related to budgetary constraints and the moratorium that had been placed on further staff. The waiting period in most of the hospitals is long, the waiting area is not spacious enough for the patients, and in some facilities the nurses shared consulting rooms and in addition had to vacate the rooms and keep their patients waiting if a specialist doctor was visiting. The security situation in most of these facilities are not up to standard. There was generally not a problem with obtaining medicines, but there was a problem in having sufficient working equipment such as monitors and special beds for maternity cases. Emergency medical services fell short of expectations. (Wednesday)
The Department of Mineral Resources will brief MPs on the amended Mining Charter and the exact targets that mining companies are expected to meet in 2017/18. (Wednesday)
SCOPA will continue its hearings on deviations and expansions. This time SITA, Water and Sanitation & Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority are in the firing line. (Wednesday)
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs will be a holding a colloquium on the Environmental Programmes, focusing on socio-economic benefits, including job creation. The colloquium truly provides a unique opportunity for all invited key stakeholders to engage in robust discussions that would advance the Committee’s oversight approach. (Wednesday)
Government has a policy to pay service providers on time and within 30 days of a valid invoice. The reason for this is that many small businesses are placed in financial distress, and prolonged hardship by the late payments for goods and services, especially by government. The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation will give MPs an update on the 30 day payment to service providers in the public service. (Wednesday)
Conditional grants are used as a mechanism to transfer funding to provinces and municipalities for the purpose of achieving a particular government objective. Over the past few weeks, the Select Committee on Appropriations has received briefing on the Early Childhood Grant and Education Grant. This week, it will get an update on the performance of the Human Settlements Grant. (Wednesday)
The Standing Committee will meet with SAA on its Quarterly report. There is a possibility that part of the meeting will be held behind closed doors when the topic veers towards market sensitive issues. (Thursday)
The NCOP Ad Hoc Committee on the Funding of Political Parties will finally get is work underway when it meets with National Treasury and the IEC on the Political Party Funding Bill [B33-2017]. (Thursday)
In between, there will be a lot of heavy legislative lifting as Committees deal with the Airports Company Amendment Bill; Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company Amendment Bill; NEMLA Bill; Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill; Public Service Commission Amendment Bill; Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill; National Land Transport Amendment Bill; Copyright Amendment Bill; PIC Bills; Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill; Money Bills Act and Carbon Tax Bill.
View the full schedule here.
*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.