The Week Ahead: End of the Second Parliamentary Term
The constituency period beckons, with MPs due to depart at the end of the week and return to Parliament on 1 August 2017. But a fair amount of heavy-duty business will be done before they go.
With little scheduled in the main chambers (only the NCOP is sitting), the committee corridor will be the main source of parliamentary action, where there are several hearings on important issues and detailed legislating.
Beyond this, a number of committees have scheduled oversight visits during this week. The purpose of these visits are to test the authenticity of the information provided by the departments and entities they oversee. It’s also an opportunity to obtain first-hand knowledge from people engaged in the direct implementation of specific programmes and/or who are directly responsible for service delivery. Some of the planned interesting oversight visits are to front-line service sites, community media projects and correctional centres.
It's the last rites of the 2017/18 budget process - the NCOP is scheduled to pass the Appropriations Bill this week and thereafter it will be referred to the President for assent. The Bill authorises government to spend money and earmarks public funds for specific spending.
An issue bubbling in the background is the implication of the recent Constitutional Court judgment. The Court ruled that the Speaker of the National Assembly has constitutional power to determine if motions of no confidence should be conducted by way of secret ballot or not. A few opposition parties have already requested the Speaker schedule a motion of no confidence debate on an urgent basis, with some pushing that it happens this week. This seems unlikely but it is an issue firmly on the radar and everyone is watching the Speaker's next moves. The UDM has already indicated it would launch a court action if the Speaker rejects a secret vote.
Here is a run down of the meetings that will produce the big headlines:
On Tuesday, the current and former Ministers of Home Affairs will brief MPs on the Gupta’s citizenship. This follows media reports raising questions about former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba's approval of the family's application for naturalised citizenship.
On the same day, lawmakers will get a briefing from the embattled state carrier (SAA) on its quarterly performance.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education will get a briefing on progress with incremental introduction of African languages, progress on plans to make history a compulsory subject and will engage with the Minister of Basic Education.
SAPS will present its plans for restructuring the Crime Intelligence Unit The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will engage with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on the proposed debt relief policy.
On Wednesday, a joint meeting of the Appropriations and Finance Committees will hold a workshop on the review of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act. One of the regular criticisms about the budget process is that time frames are very short and meaningful public engagement on very important Bills does not take place. In order to address this, the Finance Committee was tasked to review the implementation of the Money Bills Act, specifically to look into time frames and sequencing associated with the different financial instruments and Bills, and parliamentary procedures related to them.
The constituency period will be from 3 – 31 July. During this time, MPs have a duty to be available to the public, help solve problems and report back to their constituents on what is happening in Parliament.
The purpose of these periods is to encourage MPs to remain in contact with the people they represent. For more information about constituency offices, click here.
To find your constituency office, click here.
You can find the full list of meetings here.
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.