The Week Ahead: Parliament wraps up for 2016

It’s a week of farewells and loose ends…

The constituency period beckons, with MPs due to depart at the end of the week and return to Parliament next year. But a fair amount of work will be done before they go as there is some unfinished business to deal with.

Both chambers are scheduled to vote on several bills; consider assorted international agreements and statutory appointments; finalise leftover committee reports and make farewell speeches. In addition, the Deputy President will appear in the National Assembly on Wednesday to answer questions. When it comes to the leader of government business, MPs tend to be consistent in their line of questioning so familiar topics like the proposed minimum wage, investor confidence, building a stronger relationship between the executive and the legislature, HIV/AIDs and his foreign trips are on the agenda.

No doubt some MPs will use the last few plenary sittings for point-scoring and try to eke out some parliamentary publicity.

Elsewhere, the committee corridor has scheduled several interesting meetings that are likely to produce big headlines. Here is a run down of the highlights: The Ad hoc Committee established to look into the fitness of the SABC board was scheduled to begin its inquiry last week. This plan was scuppered after the chairperson of the board (and only surviving member) approached the Western Cape High Court to interdict the Committee from instituting the inquiry. The court set aside the application and the Committee will begin its work by the middle of this week.

The Minister of Police will meet with legislators to explain policing-related issues currently in the public domain. Committee Chairperson, Mr Francois Beukman, said the Committee has noted recent reports and investigations involving the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) leadership and wants urgent clarification on these issues.

President Jacob Zuma has in terms of section 79 (1) of the Constitution referred the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration. The President specifically raised concern with the provisions of the Bill relating to warrantless searches, which according to him fall short of the constitutional standard required for the provision not to unjustifiably limit the right to privacy. Parliamentary Legal Services will brief the Standing Committee on Finance on the President’s reservations.

It’s been 10 months since the Lily Mine disaster when three mine workers were (and still are) trapped underground at a Barberton mine. MPs will receive a progress update on the issue. The Department of Mineral Resources and Chamber of Mines will also brief lawmakers on the messages that South Africa should give the 2017 Mining Indaba while promoting the mining industry to new and existing investors.

The constituency periods will be from 12 - 15 December 2016 and 9 – 20 January 2017. Parliament will resume on 24 January. During the constituency period, MPs have a duty to: be available to the public, help solve problems and report back to their constituents on what is happening in Parliament.

The purpose of these periods is to encourage MPs to remain in contact with the people they represent. For more information about constituency offices, click here.

You can find the full list of meetings here.


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