The Week Ahead: Parliament resumes & focuses on COVID-19
Parliament has prioritized a schedule of virtual committee meetings, whose scope of oversight relates to government departments driving COVID-19 response measures.
Initially, the Legislature, suspended its programme until further notice, issued several statements supporting the Government’s interventions and did not want to interfere while it implements the extraordinary measures.
However, last week it announced the resumption of business and highlighted that the “role of Parliament remains indispensable, during this period of national lockdown”.
The Regulations give enormous (and necessary) powers to the Executive but parliamentary supervision is essential to maintain a check on this. During the lockdown, there are ongoing complaints about the economic impact, heavy-handed approach of law enforcement authorities, price gouging, job losses, state of the health system, privacy concerns and the flouting of regulations.
The role of municipalities – which play a crucial role in implementing the lockdown and in mitigating its impact on access to basic services, food security and the local economy – is another recurring concern.
As a result, citizens have flooded hotlines, social media, ombudsman offices and the police to register their discontent. There are also a number of COVID-related litigation actions due to human rights abuses.
With Parliament occupying the space of ultimate representative of the people, its work is grounded in public engagement and ensuring that decisions taken, policies and legislation adopted and general discourse is intrinsically tied to the public.
Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs.
Your voice is needed now. Tell Parliament how you feel about the regulations and their implementation as well as any personal challenges you experienced. Beyond this, you can advise what measure would help citizens and the economy to recover, where to appropriate funding, what legislative fixes are needed and how we can be better prepared for future disasters. Critically, what questions should MPs be posing to the executive as they conduct their oversight work?
We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here
Below is the schedule for this week as well as how you can share your on the ground feedback and expert information to the relevant committees.
TUESDAY, 21 APRIL 2020
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, and Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Joint briefing with the Select Committee on by the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation on the impact and initiatives undertaken by the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Human Settlements in providing water and sanitation to citizens as well as the initiatives undertaken on de-densification during COVID-19 period. This will include the following: The impact of the COVID-19 virus on communities without access to continuous supply of piped, potable water and initiatives undertaken by the Department of Water and Sanitation to address this; Expenditure on water and sanitation and de-densification on COVID-19 initiatives and the extent to which this would impact on already set targets within programmes and sub-programmes outlined in the 2020/21 Annual Performance Plans of the Department of the Department of Human Settlements and Department of Water and Sanitation.],Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Semenya l Committee Secretary: Ms Kholiswa Pasiya-Mndende l Email: email@example.com
Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affair on the Unintended consequences of the Disaster Management Regulation], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 13:00
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Muthambi l Committee Secretary: Ms Shereen Cassiem l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation on the following: Plans to save the 2020 academic year of universities and TVET colleges; Update with respect to the situation of students that are accommodate at University residences; Work undertaken by the various science entities of the DSI contributing towards the curbing of the Covid-19 pandemic], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 13:00
WEDNESDAY, 22 APRIL 2020
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour and Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Employment and Labour (UIF; CF; and Inspections and Enforcements) on experiences, challenges and future plans with regards to the COVID-19 during the extended lockdown period and going forward], ], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 13:00
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Dunjwa l Committee Secretary: Ms Zolani Sakasa l Email: email@example.com
Joint Standing Committee on Defence, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Consideration of Letters from the President on the Employment of Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in support of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the Department of Health (DoH) in facilitating the repatriation of South African Citizens from the Hubei Province (People’s Republic of China) that was affected by the Corona virus ; for service in cooperation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in order to maintain law and order during the nationwide lockdown and control the borderline to combat the spread of COVID 19 ; the Extension of Employment of 200 SANDF personnel to deter and prevent piracy in the Mozambique Channel; Briefing by the Military Ombud on complaints on the alleged heavy-handedness approach of Members of the SANDF in enforcing the lockdown regulations.], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Nchabaleng l Committee Secretary: Ms Pa Jayiya l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development and Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Small Business Development on Financial Support Interventions recently announced by the Minister during Covid 19 Lockdown, with reference to: Number or spread of applications received per each category and approvals; SMME Business / Growth Resilience Facility; SMME Debt Relief Scheme; Spaza Support Relief Scheme; How is the Department dealing with influx of applications], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 17:00
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Siwela l Committee Secretary: Mr King Kunene l Email: email@example.com
THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2020
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Social Development and Select Committee on Social Services (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Social Development to assess its performance in responding to the challenges brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic as well as the work of SASSA. The briefing to highlight the programmes put in place, successes and challenges experienced in their implementations. These include food security programmes, gender based violence (GBV) programmes and services for homeless people. The briefing will also include a financial report], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 13:00
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Gungubele l Committee Secretary: Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you click the Committee link above, you will find the Committee Membership and can copy your letter to individual committee members also
On the lawmaking side, MPs will receive a briefing from National Treasury, the Financial and Fiscal Commission and the Parliamentary Budget Office on the Division of Revenue Bill.
View the schedule page 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.
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.