The Week Ahead: Debates, Legislation, Question Session & More

It's the penultimate week of the parliamentary year and the National Assembly chamber has scheduled a broad programme as it rushes to finalise all urgent business.

The rules make provision for an MP to request the Speaker to place a matter of public importance on the Order Paper for discussion. This right has been exercised by the Leader of the Opposition who proposed a debate on the impact of the economy in light of the recent decisions by the National Prosecutions Authority. There will be added spice as lawmakers are also set to debate two big picture policy topics: whether free higher education for all is possible and fracking and other means of gas extraction with reference to application for exploration licenses.

Another plenary highlight is the oral question session with Ministers in the Social Services Cluster where they will be probed on a variety of issues. Here is a sample of the questions:

Ms B S Masango (DA) to ask the Minister of Social Development: Whether, with reference to her replies to question 1657 on 19 September 2016 and oral question 107 on 1 September 2016, any of the members of the advisory committee established to plan the way forward for the takeover of the paying out of social grants by the SA Social Security Agency in April 2017 were appointed as work stream leaders to ensure the smooth transition of the specified takeover; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Mr L J Basson (DA) to ask the Minister of Water and Sanitation: Whether, since her reply to oral question 103 on 24 August 2016, the Public Protector’s investigation into her alleged illegal removal of a certain person (name furnished) from the delegation to the bi-national Lesotho Highlands Water Project Commission has been completed; if not, by what date will it be completed; if so, (a) why did she allegedly remove the specified person illegally from the specified position and (b) what was the total settlement cost to her department in this regard?

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) to ask the Minister of Basic Education: In view of the fact that the Annual National Assessment (ANA) tests were met with resistance by teachers’ unions in 2016, resulting in some schools not writing the ANAs, what steps has her department taken to ensure that ANAs are performed to assess the performance of learners in the lower grades?

There will be a fair amount of legislative lifting with MPs set to vote on several finance and tax bills: Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill; Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill; Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill; Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and Finance Bill.

Beyond this, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform will deliver a statement on land related matters and the House has allocated time on members’ statements, motions and processing statutory instruments, appointments and committee reports.

Meanwhile, it's a low key week in the NCOP chamber with no sittings scheduled.

View the full plenary programme here

Elsewhere there's some significant action in the committee corridor. Here is a rundown of the highlights:

On Tuesday, the Adhoc Committee will begin its inquiry into the SABC board. It will be reviewing the board's fitness to hold office. This follows the resignation of all board members (barring the chairperson) and the re-appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as head of Corporate Affairs. If the inquiry finds that the board did not adhere to the broadcasting charter, and did not carry out its mandate, the committee can recommend the board be dissolved. The committee will also meet on Wednesday and Friday.

The Environmental Affairs Committee will meet with the North West Department of Environmental Affairs following media reports that the latter gave animals, free of charge, to three politically connected individuals.

Other noteworthy meetings include briefings by the Davis Tax Committee and on the Nuclear New Build Programme.

On Wednesday, legislators will receive a briefing from the Centre for Applied Legal Studies on Social and Labour Plans (SLPs). In terms of South African law‚ mining companies are required to submit SLPs that contain the regulatory requirements of the mine to the Department of Minerals and Resources prior to the granting of a mining right.

SCOPA has been doing some great work recently holding departments and entities to account for irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditures. Today is PRASAs turn to be in the hot seat.

In addition, MPs are scheduled to engage with stakeholders in respect of the “Jobs-for-Cash” Ministerial Report; SASSA on the progress made on implementing the Constitutional Court ruling on the bidding of the new social assistance payment tender and preparation for the institutionalisation of the grant payment system and National Treasury on the National Liquor Policy.

There's some important law-making afoot in both houses this week, on issues from financial sector regulation, labour laws, land tenure, division of revenue, tax, traditional matters, appropriation, censorship and children’s rights. Four provincial legislatures have scheduled public hearings on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (see programme)

View the full schedule here.


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