23 April 2018

Week Ahead: Deputy President, Legislation & Budget vote


The legislature’s budget vote season shows no sign of slowing down. The schedule is packed with meetings as Committees continue to interrogate departments and entities on their budgets and priorities for the year ahead. With the deadline for the completion of Budget Vote Reports fast approaching, Committees are in a race to finalise their reports ahead of the budget vote debates, which are scheduled to start at the beginning of May. This gruelling schedule has again brought into sharp focus the question of parliamentary oversight and how effectively MPs are able to engage with the presenters and presentations. On several occasions, the proceedings were hurried, questions were not probing and MPs were presented with the documents for the first time at the meeting. While it has become practice for Ministers and Deputy Ministers to be present at these meetings, some failed to pitch up - much to the consternation of legislators.

Besides budget-related matters, this is a week for detailed law-making, with issues ranging from VAT, to border management, to indigenous knowledge to copyright and mining and environmental rights all on the agenda.

The legislative backlog is becoming an issue and is worth keeping an eye on.

Beyond this, the main NA plenary event -scheduled for Wednesday - is the question session with the Leader of Government Business. The practice of oral questions is an established part of the parliamentary day and gives MPs an opportunity to question the Executive about matters for which they are responsible. According to the rules, questions to the Deputy President must be scheduled once a month when Parliament is in session.

Read the questions (excluding supplementary questions) that have been posed to the Deputy President here.

In addition, the main chamber has scheduled a second sitting to consider usual business: this includes Members' Statements, legislation, reports, Notices of Motion and Motions without Notice.

Elsewhere, it is a lot quieter in the NCOP where no plenary sittings have been scheduled.

Meanwhile, there are a number of interesting-looking meetings in the Committee corridor that are guaranteed to generate headlines. Here is a rundown of the highlights:

In June 2017, Parliament directed four Committees - Home Affairs‚ Mineral Resources‚ Public Enterprises and Transport - to "urgently probe" allegations of state capture involving Cabinet Ministers. After doing some preparatory work, the Public Enterprises Committee began its inquiry in October 2017 and is expected to conclude its report by the end of May. In contrast, it's taken the Home Affairs and Mineral Resources until this week (10 months) just to finalise and adopt the terms of references for their probes. (Tuesday and Wednesday)

SCOPA will be holding a hearing with SAA on the national carrier's irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure for 2016/17. (Tuesday)

The Information Regulator and NPA will brief lawmakers on their Budget and Annual Performance Plans. (Tuesday)

SAA, the South African Post Office and Eskom will appear before the Standing Committee on Appropriations to give progress reports following the approval of the recapitalisation and debt relief funding. (Wednesday and Thursday)

The Office of the Chief Justice and the SIU will present their Annual Performance Plans and Budget to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. (Wednesday)

The Joint Finance Committees will conduct public hearings on the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (“VAT”) Bill. There will also be legislative activity on the Copyright Amendment Bill; Mineral & Petroleum Resources Amendment Bill; National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill; Border Management Authority Bill; Indigenous Knowledge Bill; Repeal of Overvaal Resorts Ltd Bill; Division of Revenue Bill and Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Amendment Bills.

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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