The Week Ahead: Debates, heated exchanges and extensive legislative work

After a low key week, the main chambers have scheduled a broad and busy programme, which includes a motion to impeach the President, oral questions to the Deputy President and Economic Cluster; ministerial and members’ statements, policy discussions and debates, and the processing of assorted bills and statutory instruments.

In the National Assembly, the main plenary event will be a debate on the motion by the Leader of the Opposition for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to enquire into whether the President should be removed from the office in terms of section 89 (1) (a) of the Constitution. The party argues that the President “violated the principle of the separation of powers, the Constitution and directly ignored a court order by aiding and abetting wanted human rights violator, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir”. The ruling party has stated that there is no “sound legal or constitutional basis to justify the motion”, and described the debate as “ritualistic and academic”. In order for the motion to pass, the DA will need one-third (134 votes) of the National Assembly’s support, which is a mathematical possibility provided it secures the support of all the opposition parties. This task has been made virtually impossible after the EFF admitted that while it would like to see President Zuma removed, it disagrees with the grounds put forward by the DA and would likely abstain from voting.

Other plenary highlights include the oral question session with the Ministers in the Economic Cluster and the discussion on the socio-economic impact of alcohol, drugs and substance abuse on communities and on local development and the solutions thereto.

Over in the NCOP, the Deputy President will be probed on a range of issues during his oral reply session on Wednesday. This includes questions about the challenges facing state-owned enterprises, the living conditions of farm workers, persons with fake qualifications and the finalisation of the minimum wage process.

Elsewhere, the upper house has arranged two interesting debates – the first is on the killing of police officers in South Africa and the second is on the functioning of the National Council of Provinces as prescribed in the Constitution.

In addition, the legislature will host a two-day Women's Roundtable Discussion on the National Development Plan and the transformation of the economy to encourage the full participation of women - from 1 to 2 September 2015

The Committee programme is also packed, with an impressive array of cabinet ministers in action, and some very big issues under scrutiny. Here is a run-down of the highlights:

On Tuesday, MPs will receive a briefing on the five international nuclear agreements that SA entered into. This matter will receive a lot of media attention amidst growing concerns about the secrecy, necessity and affordability of the government’s plans regarding this.

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has summoned officials from Stellenbosch University to Parliament following allegations of racism against students and staff as revealed by the Luister documentary. The University has also been asked to brief lawmakers on the implementation of the university’s transformation plan and language policy. This past Friday, the Chairperson of the Committee, met with Open Stellenbosch to discuss their grievances.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Police will brief legislators on the implementation of the Farlam-Commission Recommendations. The report has been criticised for the lack of first-hand accounts from police officers on the ground and not elaborating on the involvement of police top brass. The EFF has repeatedly stated that the ANC government was responsible for the Marikana massacre. No doubt, we can expect heated exchanges and strong rhetoric during this meeting.

The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation will get an analysis of conflicts and insurgencies in Africa and the processes of conflict resolution aimed to address them; and South Africa’s peace-making efforts in Lesotho, Burundi and South Sudan. Also, the underperforming national airliner will present on its turnaround strategy and performance.

On the legislative front, committees will either get briefings, deliberate or conduct public hearings on the following bills - Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill; Expropriation Bill; Disaster Management Amendment Bill; Merchant Shipping Amendment Bill; draft Petitions Bill; Children’s Amendment Bill; Performing Animals Protection Amendment Bill; Plant Improvement and Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill.

You can find the full list of meetings here.


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