The Week Ahead: Drama as New Term Kicks off

Parliament resumes this week after a two-week constituency period. The second term will run for 8 weeks and its culmination will trigger several weeks of campaigning ahead of the municipal elections.

The programme is packed with activities. Some of the highlights include committee, oversight and legislative work; oral questions to the President and the Executive; budget vote debates and debates of national importance.

It will be anything but a gentle start as MPs are confronted with a major issue immediately, in the shape of a DA motion to impeach the President. This follows last week's landmark ruling that the President failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution. According to the DA, this amounts to a serious violation and fulfills the grounds for impeachment as set out in section 89 of the constitution. In order for the DA to succeed it will need to persuade almost the entire ANC parliamentary caucus to support the motion as there needs to be a two-thirds majority vote. Coincidentally, the Subcommittee on the review of National Assembly Rules is currently developing rules – and is set to meet this week - on how the Assembly should deal with motions to remove a President from Office. So what are the chances of success? Most pundits say zero. The only guarantee is that the debate will be high political theatre with plenty of rhetoric, political jibes and heckling as speaker after speaker bear their political fangs.

The judgment also strongly rebuked the National Assembly for failing to oversee the executive and hold it to account. The National Assembly's decision to exonerate the President was considered unlawful and inconsistent with the Constitution. In a statement, the Speaker welcomed the “legal certainty” provided by the court and admitted that “certain matters could have been handled differently”. Notwithstanding these remarks and the President's apology, this matter will dominate the political landscape for a while as calls grow louder in certain quarters for the President to resign.

Parliamentary committees will largely be consumed with processing budget votes during this term. This process includes meetings with various departments and entities on their strategic plans, annual performance plans and budgets for the financial year. Committees then have to prepare a report for consideration by the House. This will be followed by the budget debates in the Extended Public Committees, which are mini plenary sittings, and conclude with consideration of the Appropriation Bill by the NA and the NCOP. In between, there will be a bit of legislating as there are still 28 bills before Parliament.

Beyond this, the performance of the new Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Jackson Mthembu, will be watched closely. A cool head, quick thinking and a thick skin are just a few traits that will serve him well as he assumes the proverbial hot seat.

Also on the radar is the appointment of a new Inspector-General of Intelligence. The Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence has invited the public to nominate candidates to fill the vacant post. This process was restarted after the ruling party twice failed to garner enough support for its preferred candidate. The position has been vacant for more than a year and it will be interesting to see if the legislature will push to finalise the appointment this term.

The local government elections will loom large in the background. With this in mind we can expect MPs to use every possible parliamentary occasion - question times, members’ statements, debates, whatever – to target hot button electoral issues and try to score points over their opponents.

The Committee corridor is a one-trick pony this week with almost all committees considering strategic plans and budgets. See the full schedule of meetings here.

Here is the schedule for the Budget Vote Debates:

TUESDAY, 19 APRIL 09:00 – 12:45 Committees EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 30: Science and Technology (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 21: Justice and Constitutional Development (OAC) 16:40 – ±19:00 Debate on Vote 29: Mineral Resources (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 8: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (OAC)

WEDNESDAY, 20 APRIL 09:00 – 12:45 Committees 10:00 – 11:00 Chief Whips’ Forum (Closed meeting) EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 34: Trade and Industry (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 22: Office of the Chief Justice and Judicial Administration (OAC) 16:40 – ±19:00 Debate on Vote 11: Public Works (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 12: Statistics South Africa (OAC)

THURSDAY, 21 APRIL EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 25: Economic Development (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 15: Higher Education and Training (OAC) 16:40 – ±19:00 Debate on Vote 24: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 23 & 20: Police & Independent Police Investigative Directorate) (OAC)

FRIDAY, 22 APRIL EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 10:00 – ±12:30 Debate on Vote 26: Energy (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 5: Home Affairs (OAC)

TUESDAY, 26 APRIL 09:00 – 12:45 Committees EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 9: Public Enterprises (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 7: National Treasury (State Security) (OAC) 16:40 – ±19:00 Debate on Vote 19: Defence and Military Veterans (OAC)

TUESDAY, 3 MAY 09:00 – 12:45 Committees EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 10:00 - ±12:30 Debate on Vote 4: Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 6: International Relations and Cooperation (OAC) 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 33: Tourism (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 18: Correctional Services (OAC) 16:40 – ±19:00 Debate on Vote 27: Environmental Affairs (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 38: Human Settlements (OAC)

WEDNESDAY, 4 MAY 09:00 – 12:45 Committees 10:00 – 11:00 Chief Whips’ Forum (Closed meeting) EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 10:00 - ±12:30 Debate on Vote 7: National Treasury (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 17: Social Development (OAC) 14:00 – ±20:00 PLENARY Debate on Vote 1: Presidency (266)

THURSDAY, 5 MAY 08:30 NA Programme Committee (E249) CAUCUS 14:00 - PLENARY Resumption of debate on Vote 1: The Presidency (Reply by President)

FRIDAY, 6 MAY EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 10:00 – ±12:30 Debate on Vote 3: Communications (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 40: Sport and Recreation South Africa (OAC )

TUESDAY, 10 MAY EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 10:00 – ±12:30 Debate on Vote 32: Telecommunications and Postal Services (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 16: Health (OAC) 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 28: Labour (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 14: Basic Education (OAC) 16:40 – ±19:00 Debate on Vote 35: Transport (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 37: Arts and Culture (OAC)

WEDNESDAY, 11 MAY 10:00 – 11:00 Chief Whips’ Forum (Closed meeting) EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEES: 10:00 – ±12:30 Debate on Vote 36: Water and Sanitation (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 10: Public Service and Administration (OAC) 14:00 – ±16:30 Debate on Vote 39: Rural Development and Land Reform (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 31: Small Business Development (NA Chamber) Debate on Vote 13: Women

THURSDAY, 12 MAY 14:00 – ±18:00 PLENARY Debate on Vote 2: Parliament (215) (p)


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