30 April 2018

The Week Ahead: Workers' Day Debate, Tributes and Legislation top the agenda


Parliament is taking full advantage of the public holiday. It has scheduled a fairly light -but eclectic – programme in the main chambers and committee corridor.

The presiding officers have called a joint sitting for Thursday in order to pay tributes to the late Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Dr Zola Skweyiya.

On Wednesday, lawmakers in the National Assembly will hold a Workers’ Day debate, under the theme: "Celebrating 100 years of Nelson Mandela — restoration of workers’ right to dignity through the national minimum wage". The proposed national minimum wage, persistent high levels of unemployment and transformation in the workplace are a few of the main topics that will be raised sharply during the event.

The NCOP is expected to consider and pass the Division of Revenue Bill on Wednesday. Section 214(1) of the Constitution requires that every year a Division of Revenue Act determines the equitable division of nationally raised revenue among the three spheres of government. During the processing of the bill, lawmakers were informed that in order to create funding space for free higher education and prevent spiralling government debt, Cabinet decided to cut down expenditure in non-critical, non-service delivery areas at all levels during the next three years.

Beyond this, it's raining reports in committee-land. After examining the budgets and strategic plans of departments and entities (there are still a few leftover briefings), committees are now finalising their reports ahead of the budget vote debates, which are scheduled to start next week. There was a common trend during the budget briefings: departments and entities complained about the impact of budget cuts, which resulted in less money being available for core programmatic work, and asked for more money. In response, committees probed departments on whether they were working in a prudent manner with finances and prioritising spending in the right areas.

Here is a run down of the committee highlights:

SCOPA's meeting with SAPS and other role players will be a highlight on Wednesday. Earlier this year, the Committee demanded the cancellation of contracts betweens Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) and the police and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) owing to question marks about the legality of the agreements. SCOPA instructed SAPS and SITA not to pay FDA. The company - which supplies critical infrastructure systems and services - reportedly threatened to shut down the systems it provides to both organisations after they failed to pay. The Committee indicated that the threat of collapsing the forensic functions of the South African Police Service was synonymous with holding the Agency, the police and the government to ransom.

The Water and Sanitation department is in a huge mess. After analysing and scrutinising the 2016/17 Annual Report and presentations made by the Department as well as the audit findings of the Office of the Auditor-General, MPs found that the Department is characterised by capacity constrains in the areas of: human capital, internal controls, contract management, project management and the costing of projects. These capacity constrains have led to issues of project cost escalations, flouting of procurement and supply management process, deviations, virements and negligence and inadequate internal controls to identify and monitor fruitless, irregular and unauthorised expenditure. In addition, they raised serious concerns about whether the Department has the ability to ensure its financial sustainability for effective bulk water and sanitation infrastructure development for the future of South Africa. When the Department appears before legislators this week to present its Budget Vote, Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan, legislators will be seeking answers on how it is addressing all previous concerns.

There will be a joint meeting between the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises to get a briefing on Denel, Transnet and Department of Public Enterprises strategic plan and budget for 2018/19 as well as the shareholder compacts signed with state-owned companies.

The Standing Committee on Finance will receive a briefing on the Illicit Tobacco Trade.

The Department of Social Development, the National Development Agency and SASSA will present their Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and budget for 2018/19. This meeting was originally scheduled for last week but the Portolio Committee on Scocial Development cancellled it “on the basis that the department has no defined organisational structure”. Concern was alo expressed that the new Minister had not signed off on the Annual Performance Plan and it was only approved by her predecessor.

In between, there will be detailed legislating on the following bills: National Public Health Institute of South Africa (NAPHISA) Bill; Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill; 2018 Appropriation Bill; Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill; Draft Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Amendment Bill and 2018 Division of Revenue 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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