The Week Ahead: President Q&A and Youth Day Debate
Even with a public holiday to compress the parliamentary week, there is a fair bit of action scheduled into the available four days.
In the NA chamber, the most significant event will be the appearance by the President to answer oral questions. This virtual engagement will be another historic first for this Parliament.
The President is required to answer questions of national or international importance once per term in accordance with the annual parliamentary programme. The questions are sifted and published beforehand to ensure only questions satisfying the set criteria are put to the President. Four supplementary questions, arising from the reply to a question, are allowed.
Over the years, questions have been raised about the form, frequency and effectiveness of these sessions. Some argue that it is a choreographed exercise that does little to hold the Executive to account. To support this view, they point to the number of questions allowed, the vetting process, scripted response, soft questions asked by ANC MPs, long-winded statements camouflaged as questions and poor responses. Others point out that even though it is not a perfect mechanism for Executive scrutiny, it helps shape the public’s views and perceptions of the President. It's an opportunity for him to present ideas, demonstrate leadership abilities and address specific concerns raised. The supplementary questions, in particular, show whether the President has a sound grasp of issues and is able to think on his feet. It is also a rare opportunity for legislators to interact directly with the President.
President Ramaphosa will be probed about the lockdown and government’s COVID-19 response. Read the questions here:
Beyond this, there is a scheduled sitting to commemorate Youth Day. The theme for the debate is “Youth Power – Growing South Africa together in a time of Covid-19”. As has become the norm, the debate will be headlined by young MPs who will reflect on issues affecting young people. Education, unemployment and violence are some of the major issues that are expected to be touched on.
Elsewhere, the high point in the NCOP chamber is the passing of the Appropriation Bill. This will conclude Parliament’s approval of the 2020/21 budget.
During last Friday's debate on the bill in the National Assembly, many MPs pointed out that the current budget was not valid as the emergency budget -scheduled to be tabled on 24 June - will address the financial challenges posed by the Covid-19 virus.
In their oversight of government departments and entities, committees can hold them accountable by comparing the budget plans that Parliament has approved with what is actually being done.
It’s a promising week in the Committee corridor, with a few interesting meetings in prospect. Here is a run down:
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises and the SA Express liquidators], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department on the current Presidential elections in Burundi and upcoming elections in Malawi; Briefing by the Department on South Africa’s contribution to the operationalisation of identified Agenda 2063 flagship projects], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00
Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the DPWI on the IDT exit strategy; Consideration and adoption of minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communication, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by Denel on progress made in implementation of the turnaround strategy], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00
Thursday, 18 June 2020
Joint Standing Committee on Defence, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Defence on border safeguarding and an update on the deployment of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on COVID-19], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00
Friday, 19 June 2020
Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Minerals Council of South Africa (Mincosa), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), Solidarity and The UASA on COVID-19 related work in the mining industry], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the DTIC on beneficiation and localisation; Consideration of the 1st draft of the 4th quarter financial and non-financial report of the DTI and the EDD; Formal consideration of the oversight reports], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, (National Assembly), [Follow up meeting with the Commission for Gender Equality on all outstanding matters arising from the meeting of 26 May 2020 on APP and Strategic Plan for 2020/2021 with particular emphasis on the role of Commissioners], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00
Constitutional Review Committee, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Consideration of matters recommended for consideration in legacy report of the 5th CRC Parliament Report; Briefing by Committee stakeholders on the status and development of indigenous languages in line with the constitutional mandate of making them official languages; Briefing by the Equal Education on the review of section 100 of the Constitution, including the Parliamentary legal opinion in support of the submission made], Virtual Meeting Platform, 18:00
Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the Executive as they conduct their oversight work?
We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here
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.