16 October 2017

The Week Ahead: State capture investigations kick into gear

There's a broad and busy flavour to this week's parliamentary business.

In the National Assembly chamber, the main plenary highlight will be the Deputy President’s regular engagement with lawmakers when he appears to answer oral questions where he will be probed about a mixture of big-picture policy matters and current controversies.

The Rules allow MPs to propose a subject for discussion – this mechanism provides an opportunity for the House to debate a particular topic without being required to take a decision at the end of the debate. Debates allow MPs to voice the concerns and interests of their constituents and voters. It is meant to be a dynamic style of discussion, in which MPs generally respond to the points made by other speakers rather than reading out formal, set-piece speeches – though this is seldom upheld. This week, the subject for discussion put forward by Mr T Godi (APC) is about the relevance and effectiveness of provinces and district municipalities in our system of government. Earlier this year, the ANC policy conference called for a presidential commission to investigate the reconfiguration of provinces. The ANC took a decision in 2007 that the number of provinces be reduced to six.

A debate to commemorate National Women's Day is a standing item on the agenda and is held every year usually around the same time as the holiday. It appeared that it might not happen this year given that the legislative body hosted a two-day international women’s conference in August. Despite a packed programme, this tradition will continue when MPs debate the emancipation and empowerment of women

Beyond this, the NA will consider motions, members’ statements and process assorted Bills and Committee reports.

Elsewhere, the NCOP chamber has scheduled oral question time sessions over three days with Ministers in the Economics Cluster. The practice of oral questions is an established part of the parliamentary day and gives MPs an opportunity to question government Ministers about matters for which they are responsible.

Questions to which Cluster 4A: Economics will provide oral replies in the NCOP on Tuesday 17 October.

Questions to which Cluster 4B: Economics will provide oral replies in NCOP on Wednesday 18 October.

*The questions for Thursday 19 October were not available at the time of writing.

Find the full plenary programme here

Once again, there is significant action in the Committee corridor – there are over 40 meetings scheduled. For a third consecutive week, lawmakers will be dealing with Annual Reports and finalising Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRRs) which must be completed before the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement on 25 October. Here is a run down of the highlights:

On Tuesday, the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises will begin its inquiry into Eskom with the first witnesses set to give evidence. The inquiry is expected to look into a wide range of issues; among other things this will include the reappointment of Brian Molefe and various allegations contained in the state capture leaked emails and those made by the former Mineral Resources Minister‚ Ngoako Ramatlhodi. The Committee will receive a presentation by State Capacity Research Project on the inquiry reference book.

MPs will consider a memorandum in support of migrants and refugees from the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town.

Lawmakers will discuss the CRL Rights Report on the regulation of religion and abuse of peoples belief systems. In a briefing earlier this year, the Chapter Nine body recommended that the Department of Home Affairs should ensure that foreign religious leaders’ applications for a work permit be based on a quota system. The Commission also recommended to SARS that they should do an in-depth investigation into tax evasion by some religious leaders and religious institutions, in partnership with the CRLRC.

Parliament has organised a joint meeting where the Auditor-General South Africa will unpack the 2016-17 Audit Outcomes. The Auditor-General will present key challenges that surfaced during the audits. He is likely to emphasise the following: more attention needs to be paid to supply chain and financial management across government departments and entities and there needs to better implementation of proper and sound internal controls.

On Wednesday, the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources will commence its inquiry into state capture allegations when the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, appears before it.

The National Assembly Rules Committee will meet to discuss the pre-1994 legislation report as well as a proposal to establish an oversight committee to oversee the Presidency.

In between, there is a lot of unglamorous legislating as lawmakers process the Copyright Amendment Bill, a Committee Bill dealing with debt relief, Legal Practice Amendment Bill, International Arbitration Bill and MPRDA Bill. Also, the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services will receive a briefing on legislation and bills emanating from the ICT White Paper Policy

View the full daily schedule here.

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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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