03 February 2020

The Week Ahead: MPs get stuck into 2020

It's still early days but Parliament is slowly coming back to life after a lengthy summer break.

The legislature has planned a broad programme this week after a low-key start.

With no sittings scheduled in the main chambers, the Committee corridor will be the main source of parliamentary action.

Away from Plein Street, several Committees have arranged visits to projects and facilities across the country. Oversight visits provide Committees with an opportunity to assess progress made and test the authenticity of the information provided by government entities. In keeping with this oversight mandate, the Portfolio Committees on Basic Education; Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation; Trade and Industry and Higher Education, Science and Technology will be travelling to various parts of the country.

Elsewhere, the Portfolio Committee on Health will embark on the penultimate leg of public hearings on the NHI Bill in the Western Cape. Participants agree that the health sector is dysfunctional but disagree on whether the NHI is the correct mechanism to fix this. You can track the processing of the NHI bill through Parliament here

Meanwhile, Parliament’s management is hard at work with preparations for the State of the Nation Address that is scheduled for next week.

Here is a run down of the noteworthy meetings in the Committee corridor:

MPs will get an update on the outbreak of diseases of economic importance (e.g. foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease, African swine fever, brucelosis, Anthrax, etc.) including interventions to control and prevent them; as well as the status of other diseases that impact the agricultural sector in South Africa (e.g. citrus black spot, fall armyworm, avian influenza etc) (Tuesday)

Lawmakers will have a meeting with the Auditor-General on the performance audit of the immigration process for undocumented immigrants at the Department of Home Affairs. (Tuesday)

The Department of Public Works will brief SCOPA on plans to address its ESKOM debt. The Department contributed the lion’s share of debt (R3.1b of R3.5b) owed by national departments to municipalities for services rendered. At the end of last year, SCOPA resolved that all departments with outstanding debt will be instructed to submit payment plans by February 2020. (Tuesday)

The Broadcast Digital Migration (BDM) policy will be in the spotlight as MPs get an update on its implementation. (Tuesday)

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) will brief MPs on its 2018/19 Annual report and mandate. The entity’s recent decision to provide R3.5bn in emergency funding to SAA is expected to be one of the major talking points in the meeting. (Tuesday)

The Ad Hoc Committee established to amend section 25 of the Constitution will finalise its provincial public hearings programme. At last week’s meeting, the proposed dates and venues were a sticking point. (Tuesday) You can track the processing of the Bill through Parliament here

The joint Finance and Appropriation Committees have established a subcommittee to deal with the appointment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) Director. The subcommittee will compile a shortlist of candidates to be interviewed for the post. The main objective of the PBO is to provide objective and professional advice to Parliament on matters related to the budget and other money bills. (Tuesday)

SCOPA will have a follow-up meeting with PRASA regarding the financial management and regression of the entity. The entity had regressed from an unqualified audit with findings in 2015/16, to a qualified audit in 2016/17 and 2017/18, followed by a disclaimer in 2018/19. The Auditor-General (AG) highlighted that 11 material findings led to the disclaimer and these included: Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE); change in accountancy policy; fare revenue; risk management; irregular expenditure; fruitless and wasteful expenditure; cash flow statements, amongst others. Part of the Committee’s mandate is to oversee the prevention of further regression and collapse of the financial management of the entity.(Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has arranged a follow-up meeting with the Department’s CFO on the circumstances that led to the recurring Auditor General’s audit outcomes. (Wednesday)

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence will receive a briefing on the Database, Skills Audit and the Military Veterans Act Amendments. (Thursday)

The National Assembly Programming Committee will discuss the draft parliamentary programme for the year. (Thursday)

There are currently 32 Bills (including the draft section 25 Bill) before Parliament. In between, Committees will be focusing on five Bills this week: National Health Insurance Bill, Border Management Authority Bill, Customary Initiation Bill, Local Government Municipal Structures Amendment Bill and Cybercrimes 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


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People's Assembly

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

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