The Week Ahead: Urgent Debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Question Time with the President

14 Mar 2022 (2 months, 1 week ago)

This Week In Parliament

An eclectic week of parliamentary action beckons in the main chambers and committee corridor.

A combination of Question Time, a ministerial briefing, two debates, statutory appointments, legislative business and several high-profile committee meetings, should mean plenty of fizz.

The right to seek information from the Executive and the right to hold the Executive accountable are two of the legislature’s essential roles.

In order for MPs to exercise these rights, Parliament has arranged Oral Question Time sessions – in both chambers - with the President (NA, Thursday), the Deputy President (NCOP, Wednesday) and Ministers (NA, Wednesday).

The President is required to answer questions of national or international importance once per term in accordance with the annual parliamentary programme. The questions are sifted and published beforehand to ensure that only those satisfying the set criteria are put to the President. Four supplementary questions, arising from the reply to a question, are allowed.

Over the years, questions have been raised about the form, frequency and effectiveness of these sessions. Some argue that it is a choreographed and ritualistic exercise that does little to hold the Executive to account. To support this view, they point to the number and nature of questions allowed, the vetting process, the scripted response, the long-winded statements camouflaged as questions and the poor responses. Others point out that even though it is not a perfect mechanism for Executive scrutiny, it can help to shape the public’s views and is an opportunity for the President to address specific concerns raised. The supplementary questions, in particular, show whether the President has a sound grasp of issues and is able to think on his feet. It is also a rare opportunity for legislators to interact directly with the President.

View the questions here

In line with the broad tasks delegated to the Deputy President, he will be probed on a range of topics, such as: addressing the decline in water quality; the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine; addressing criminal activities involving foreign nationals; finalising land claims process; the Moral Regeneration Movement and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

Select Ministers in the governance cluster will also be quizzed on a range of issues during their turn.

An urgent debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the headline item during Tuesday’s National Assembly sitting. The leader of the opposition sponsored the debate to discuss the impact of the invasion on the South African economy. The topic will feature during two of the Question Time periods and continues to be raised through written questions and in committee meetings. It is likely to be a robust debate given the public utterances and a steady stream of statements by government and political parties on the matter. At the same sitting, lawmakers will consider a report recommending candidates for appointment by the President to serve as commissioners on the Public Service Commission.

The NCOP’s Ministerial Briefing Session will see delegates come together with the Minister and provincial MECs to hear about their plans in eradicating the gaps in the provision of water and sanitation.

On Thursday, delegates will hold a debate on state capacity under the theme: Building a developmental state to take the lead in building a better life for all.

The Portfolio on Home Affairs is in a sprint to process the Electoral Amendment Bill. Provincial public hearings took place in 4 provinces last week and another 4 provinces will be visited this week: from Monday to Wednesday, MPs will be in Gauteng and Free State and from Thursday to Saturday they will be in North West and the Eastern Cape. The Committee is split into two groups so it can cover a lot of ground quickly. According to Daily Maverick, civil society has raised concern over the “hurried nature” of the public hearings currently under way and also their narrow focus. Track the Bill

View Plenary Programme

An alliance of opposition parties in Parliament will meet on Tuesday to discuss service delivery, state security, the Zondo and Mpati Commissions, the lockdown, government and other issues of national importance.

Also behind the scenes, there will be submissions, discussions and maybe even legal action following the Speaker’s decision to hold open votes on two motions of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet.

There’s lots of action in Committee-land. Here is a rundown of the main highlights:

TUESDAY, 15 MARCH 2022

Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, Central Energy Fund, National Treasury and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), respectively, on the impact of the increasing fuel prices on the economy and possible alternatives and/or considerations in addressing increases in fuel prices], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00

Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilties, (National Assembly), [Presentation by Hon Sharif and Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation on the petition from Post Office to Parliament Task Team and the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation calling on the Assembly to establish the National Council on Gender Based Violence and Femicide and response by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on the petition; Briefing by the Department of Health and Social Development on progress made with regards to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence & Femicide], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00

Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Follow-up briefing by the National Prosecuting Authority on cases referred by the Special Investigating Unit], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00

Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, (National Council of Provinces), [Report back by the Parliamentary Legal Advisor Mr. Mjenxane, on issues emanated from Public Hearings; Deliberations on Employment Equity Amendment Bill [B 14B - 2020] and on Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill [B 21B – 2020] (s75)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00-19:00

Select Committee on Health and Social Services, (National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Social Development & SASSA: Progress report on implementation of social relief programmes; Progress report on interventions to address effects of GP & KZN “unrest” on social development facilities], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00-19:30

WEDNESDAY, 16 MARCH 2022

Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, (National Assembly), [Consideration of the Expropriation Bill [B23-2020] clause by clause], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Standing Committee on Appropriations, (National Assembly), [Public hearings on the 2022 Division of Revenue Bill], Virtual Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Police, (National Assembly), [09:00-11:00: Briefing on public submissions on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill [B25 – 2021]; 11:00-13:00 - First Day: Public hearings on Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill [B25 – 2021]], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00

Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation and Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) on its Report on Gender Transformation Investigations in TVET colleges; Briefing by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on overview of student unrest the post-school education and training (PSET) sector and student admissions for the 2022 academic year; Briefing by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on funding and support to students at universities and TVET colleges], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00

Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, (National Assembly), [Briefing by Department of Public Enterprises on policy impediments raised by Eskom and Transnet regarding Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment and all other policies hampering the developmental objectives of state-owned companies; Consideration and adoption of minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00

Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications, (National Council of Provinces), [A briefing by the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies of the unbundling of the Postbank from the South African Post Office as a stand-alone entity including its financial sustainability as well as the services it provides to the public vis-à-vis other commercial banks], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00-13:00

THURSDAY, 17 MARCH 2022

Joint Standing Committee on Defence, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by Military Ombud on progress with challenges facing the institution, progress related to legislative amendments and progress related to ongoing investigations; Briefing by DFSC and the Minister of Defence on the outcome of the ‘retreat’ on the implementation of DFSC recommendations; Consideration of Minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 18:15

FRIDAY, 18 MARCH 2022

Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the MINCOSA and the Labour movement, respectively, on the impact of the High Court Judgement in September 2021, relating to the Mining Charter], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00

Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, (National Assembly), [Colloquium on Animal Welfare], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-17:00

Portfolio Committee on Police, (National Assembly), [09:00-10:00 - Second Day: Public hearings on Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill [B25 – 2021]; 10:00-13:00: Committee deliberations on the Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00

Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your thoughts 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? Write to a Parliamentary Committee.

View the schedule page here.

View the Provincial Legislature's schedule 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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