The Week Ahead: 2019 Parliament is winding down

18 Nov 2019 (2 years, 8 months ago)

Question Time and Legislation are the main parliamentary business this week. Legislators in the National Assembly chamber will probe the Deputy President and selected Ministers in the Social Services Cluster during their scheduled oral reply question sessions.

Question Time is one of the ways Parliament scrutinises the work of government and holds it accountable. Many of the questions touch on bread and butter issues and/or high-temperature business and the responses are generally newsworthy. An interesting part of the exercise is how the questions are structured as MPs simultaneously try to get their talking points across and ask a question.

The Deputy President will be quizzed on his monitoring of public participation in public hearings, plans taken to address marginalization of African skills in restructuring SOEs, Chinese investment, strategies of the SA National AIDS Council, trade relations with the USA and the communal land tenure system. Read the questions

Ministers will be asked about a range of topics including losses incurred by NSFAS, the comprehensive sexuality education programme, the foster care grant system, rape kits at police stations, steps to address gaps in mental health services and debt owed by municipalities to the water boards. Read the questions

Beyond this, the NA chamber will consider 2 bills: Foreign Service Bill and Division of Revenue Amendment Bill. The latter allocates resources to the three spheres of government and is a critical step in the budget process before national government, the nine provinces and 257 municipalities can determine their own budgets. The former bill was first introduced in 2015 and lapsed when the Fifth Parliament dissolved. The Bill was revived last month and aims to have a single administration and management procedure for SA’s missions abroad.

Also dotting the plenary agenda are regular items like assorted committee reports (including leftover Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports), Members’ Statements, Motions Without Notice and Notices of Motion.

There are no scheduled NCOP sittings this week.

Away from Plein Street, the Portfolio Committee on Health will embark on the fourth leg of public hearings on the NHI Bill in KZN. This will take place over four days and follows hearings in the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. View venues and times here.

In addition, Parliament will launch the start of the Provincial Review Sessions of the 1994 Women Charter in Gugulethu under the theme: “Twenty-Five Year Review of the Women’s Charter for Effective Equality”. There are several headline-grabbing meetings scheduled in the committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights: Committees can conduct inquiries into matters within their remits and is an important tool at their disposal. It is a rare event nonetheless. The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology will hold a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of corruption, maladministration, nepotism and abuse of authority at the Tshwane University of Technology. (Tuesday)

In its Legacy report, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs said it needed to follow up on the implementation of the High Level Panel on key legislation to address some of the outstanding issues amending the Electoral Act to provide for an electoral system that makes MPs accountable to defined constituencies on a proportional representation. The Committee will hear from the Department and the IEC in this regard. Further this, Committee will receive an update from the Department on the Fireblade aviation agreement and EOH contract. The Fireblade saga saw the former Minister, Malusi Gigaba, facing a North Gauteng High Court ruling that he lied under oath when he said he did not approve the operation of a privately-owned air traffic terminal owned by the Oppenheimer family. The Public Protector also released a report on the matter, with its remedial action directing President Ramaphosa to discipline Gigaba for perjuring himself and violating the Constitution as a member of the Executive. (Tuesday)

In September, the President announced an emergency action plan to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence in the country. Parliament has held debates on the topic and questioned the Executive for further details on the plan. In keeping with this renewed focus, a joint meeting, comprising of the committees on women, youth and persons with disabilities, health, social development, justice, police and the multi-party women’s caucus, has been organized to receive a briefing from the interim steering committee on gender-based violence on the progress made and related matters. (Tuesday)

The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements is due to hear about the Department’s plan to deal with the water crisis in municipalities. (Tuesday)

SARS will brief lawmakers on the Illicit Tobacco Trade. (Tuesday)

MPs will recommend a candidate to serve as a Commissioner for the Public Service Commission. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration has arranged a wide-ranging meeting: The topics include: progress made with regard to the establishment of the Office of Standards and Compliance in the public service; monitoring Financial Disclosure Framework in the public service and implementation of the Revised Determination on Other Remunerative Work to prohibit public servants from doing business with the State. (Wednesday)

The Subcommittee on Review of the National Council of Provinces Rules has arranged a meeting. (Wednesday)

The Department of Social Development’s progress report in meeting the North Gauteng High Court deadline on foster care orders backlog foster care orders will be in the spotlight again. This will be the Committee’s fourth engagement with the Department on the issue since September. (Wednesday)

The Department of Defence will brief MPs on cyber warfare capability and development. (Wednesday)

In between, MPs will be discussing and considering several pieces of legislation. These include: Division of Revenue Amendment Bill; Civil Aviation Amendment Bill; Adjustments Appropriation Bill; Border Management Authority Bill; Child Justice Amendment Bill; Independent Police Investigative Directorate Amendment Bill; Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill; 2019 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB); 2019 Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill (TALAB); 2019 Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill (Rates Bill); Hydrographic Bill; subordinate legislation relating to Domestic Trade in Rhinoceros Horns; White Paper on Public Works Bill and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.

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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