The Week Ahead: Final Term Resumes

Oct. 5, 2020 (2 weeks ago)

parli resumes

Parliament resumes this week after a constituency period.

The hybrid Parliament will continue for another term, with some MPs working from the precinct and others remotely. This system is limiting and imperfect but Parliament has been able to perform its legislative and oversight role at a vital time.

The final term will run for eight weeks and the programme is packed with activities.

Some of the highlights include committee, oversight and legislative work; oral questions to the executive; important debates and appointments as well a review of the national budget.

In addition, scrutiny of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue. MPs will use a range of oversight tools to get answers. We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here.

The timetable is fluid and can be overtaken by unscheduled debates, statements and events.

Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) and Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)

It is that time of the year when parliamentary committees conduct annual performance assessments of government departments and entities. This is a standing feature in the calendar and is usually a frenetic period.

As part of this process, committees will compile a Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) with suggestions to amend the budget of national departments. This is aimed at ensuring more effective, efficient and economic use of allocated resources.

The BRRR is based on a comprehensive review and analysis of the previous financial year’s performance as well as performance to date. Due to COVID-19, Treasury extended the statutory tabling deadline for annual reports so it will be interesting to watch how committees navigate this challenge. In addition to the Annual and Quarterly reports, the BRRR also sources documents for the Standing/Select Committees on Appropriations/Finance when they make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTPBS).

Later this month, the Minister of Finance will present the MTBPS in Parliament. The MTBPS outlines the economic context against which the 2021 budget is being formulated and sets out the spending framework for the next three years. It is an opportunity for government to modify expenditure and revenue patterns so that delivery is accelerated. Another thing to look out for is whether any party will try to make amendments to the Adjustment Appropriations Bill – the DA tried unsuccessfully for the past few years and will probably do so again.

Legislation

MPs are expected to do some heavy legislative lifting as there are 30 bills before the legislature.

A few of these are landmark bills and will ensure that Parliament will be firmly in the spotlight. This includes a trio of GBV bills, the National Health Insurance Bill and the draft bill amending section 25 of the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation. The ad hoc committee tasked with processing the latter bill has until 31 December to conclude its work.

Beyond this, Parliament has embarked on a process to overhaul the electoral law.

Appointments

One of the functions assigned to Parliament - in the Constitution and in legislation – is to recommend candidates for appointment to various bodies.

In the next term, Parliament will be kept busy filling vacancies at the following agencies: Office of the Auditor-General, Information Regulator, Public Service Commission and Central Drug Authority (this is not a comprehensive list).

The NYDA board appointment is another matter that must be reviewed and finalised following complaints about the process followed by the committees that recommended the candidates.

Turning to this week, Parliament has scheduled a Sector Parliaments Planning Session under the theme: Towards a Sectoral Oversight Framework: Strengthening Three Sphere Coordination and Oversight, Through a Targeted Policy Focus, for Accelerated Implementation. It will run over two days and one of the objectives is to determine Overarching Policy Priorities for Sector Parliaments in the Sixth Parliament.

In addition, the NCOP has arranged two Women’s Charter Review Sessions with Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District and Ngaka Modire Molema District.

In Committee-land, the schedule is bursting and there is a mixed flavour to it. We can expect an impressive array of Cabinet Ministers in the Committee corridor during this time.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, (National Assembly), [Inputs by Parliamentary Legal Services on the ULTRA Bill; Motion of desirability and deliberations on processing the ULTRA Bill [B6-2020] taking into consideration public comments], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Update on Constitutional Court Electoral Act Amendment by Minister of Home Affairs; Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on the performance and expenditure of quarter one of 2020], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, (National Assembly), [Deliberations on the remitted Copyright and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bills], Virtual Meeting Platform, 13:00-16:00

Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly), [Briefing by Cricket South Africa on the status/outcome of the outstanding independent forensic investigation report, intervention by SASCOC and all other pertinent matters; Consideration and adoption of draft reports on the DSAC performance for second, third and fourth quarter of 2019/20; Consideration and adoption of committee programme for the fourth term], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00

Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Deliberations on matters that surfaced during the Beitbridge oversight visit: Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI); Auditor-General; Special Investigating Unit; Technical experts of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC); and Department of Defence role], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-14:00

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Standing Committee on Finance, (National Assembly), [Public hearings on the TLAB, TALAB and Rates Bills], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Standing Committee on Appropriations, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the PBO on its policy brief on the Draft Public Procurement Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, (National Assembly), [Presentation of Annual Report 2019/20: Department of Military Veterans], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00-15:00

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Public Protector SA: Fourth quarter of 2019/20 and First Quarter of 2020/21 as part of the Budgetary Review and Recommendations process], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30

Friday, 9 October 2020

Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Content Advisor on the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) on the performance of the Department of Home Affairs and briefing by IEC on Electoral Laws Amendments Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Progress report by the Executive Authority on the implementation of the Public Service Commission’s recommendations emanating from its inquiry into the tragic death of Mr L Garane in September 2018; Update by the Executive Authority on the appointment of the Secretary to Parliament, the Director to the Parliamentary Budget Office, and the establishment of the Treasury Advice Office; Consideration and Adoption of the Committee’s reports on: Parliament’s performance in the first quarter of 2020/21; Parliament’s draft annual performance plan for 2021/22], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the Executive as they conduct their oversight work?

View the schedule page 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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