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The Week ahead: Section 25 & legislation in the spotlight

The work of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review is likely to eclipse everything else this week. The Committee was given a mandate by the NA and the NCOP to review Section 25 of the Constitution, and other clauses where necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation. The Committee undertook an extensive nation-wide public hearing process from June to August. Owing to the huge volume of submissions and public interest, the Committee could not meet the original deadline (end of September 2018) to finalise its Report. According to the Committee’s agreed-upon programme, 15 November was set as the new date for the adoption of the Report. In order to meet this deadline, the Committee is expected to have meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week to review the Draft Report on the possible review of Section 25 of the Constitution. The working document outlines the methodology that was used to elicit views from the public, the summary of public submissions and the Committee’s observations and recommendations. The recommendation will be forwarded to both chambers for consideration before Parliament rises for the summer recess break.

This is a week for detailed law-making, with issues ranging from civil union, to tax, to gambling, to qualifications and more.

The big plenary event in the National Assembly is the question time session with Ministers in the Peace and Security Cluster and leftover questions to the Economic Cluster. Most of the questions touch on a wide variety of controversial matters, domestic and foreign, which is guaranteed to make this a lively sitting.

This week could see the finalisation of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill. The division of revenue lays down how total government revenue should be divided and allocated between the spheres of government.

Another highlight is the scheduled discussion titled: "Through Peace and Stability - Responding to the Needs of our People"

In addition, the plenary agenda is dotted with the usual items like consideration of assorted Committee Reports, legislation and motions.

The programme is a bit more pedestrian in the NCOP chamber, where only one day has been scheduled to debate unemployment in the country and consider outstanding Reports.

It's a busy week in Committee-land, particularly on the legislative front, and there are some very big and serious issues in play. Here is a run down of the highlights:

Scopa will get a progress report from the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on the defaulting municipalities that owe Eskom. Municipalities owe the power utility R13 billion. The IMTT was established to find solutions to the constitutional, systemic, and structural challenges in electricity reticulation. Previously, municipalities raised several challenges, including the challenge of illegal connections in communities, the high unemployment rate which leads to people unable to pay the municipality while the municipality continues to provide electricity, ageing infrastructure, debt collectors overcharging municipalities, and municipalities not being assisted by police when they report illegal connections by people who are operating such as gangsters who have weapons and are a danger to municipal officials. Municipalities further expressed concern that their constitutional authority is undermined by Eskom. (Tuesday)

Cybersecurity and any other security issues will come under the spotlight when the Department of Telecommunications briefs Parliament. Lawmakers will be keen to find out if government has the necessary legal framework, institutions, skills and capacity to deal with this matter. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs will probe the Department on a variety of matters: litigation cases against the Department and the incident that happened at OR Tambo International Airport between immigration officials and dignitaries of the Southern African Development Community (Tuesday)

In a September meeting, the Police Committee noted that SAPS was having ongoing challenges with the Department of Public Works. The Committee raised the matter of the Department giving SAPS unsuitable buildings and facilities. A follow-up a joint meeting has been arranged to tackle this. (Tuesday)

The SABC plans on retrenching workers in order to reduce costs. MPs have indicated that retrenchment must be the very last resort. The DA has called for an independent skills audit to be conducted first before the public broadcaster pursues this path of action. MPs will meet with the SABC on implementation of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. (Tuesday)

“Farm attacks” will be in the spotlight this week. It is a topic that generates a lot of heat as there is often debate about the extent of the problem, with different sides presenting contrasting statistics. SAPS will brief MPs on its Rural Safety Plan and various stakeholders have been invited to give input as well. (Wednesday)

Recently, the Constitutional Court delivered an important judgement affirming the rights of communities living in mining areas. The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources will get a briefing from the Department on its response to this judgement and pending legal cases. (Wednesday)

Last week, Scopa sent the SABC packing for not providing information the Committee requested on irregular expenditure amounting to R4.9bn. The meeting has been rescheduled to this week. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation will hear from the Department of Water and Sanitation, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association on outstanding debt by municipalities owed to water boards and the Department of Water and Sanitation. In 2017, the Department reported there were 186 municipalities involved, but 30 were extreme cases. There was also a proposal to withhold the equitable share allocation as a mechanism to offset the debt. Stakeholders highlighted ageing infrastructure issues, low collection rates, the operation on a deficit or break-even point by water trading bodies, and economic circumstances as default-enhancing mechanisms. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Social Development will briefed by the Department of Social Development on operations and a funding model for Food Security implementing agencies across provinces. (Wednesday)

In between, Committees will be doing some detailed legislating, with the following Bills considered: Competition Amendment Bill; Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill; Taxation Laws Amendment Bill; Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill; National Gambling Amendment Bill; Civil Union Amendment Bill; Electoral Amendment Bill; Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill; Property Practitioners Bill; Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill; Road Accident Benefit Scheme; Foreign Service Bill; and National Qualifications Amendment Bill.

View the full 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.


Video: Youth Monitoring Parliament

Since 1995, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group is enabling thousands of young people to go into Parliament and write detailed reports of the proceedings of the 50 oversight committees.

Here are some comments from our monitors, interns and past alumni – even two MPs are former PMG monitors.


The Week Ahead: President & Deputy make appearances in Parliament

There's a full and mixed flavour to the coming week's parliamentary business. The major points of interest will come from the high-profile Question Time sessions with the President in the National Assembly and the Deputy President in the NCOP.

This is the President’s final interaction with NA lawmakers for this year. This session was originally scheduled for last month but had to be moved after the President was too ill to appear.

President Ramaphosa will be grilled on a variety of issues, including the recently unveiled stimulus and recovery plan, the spate of community protests, SA's role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the loan agreement signed with China and an urgent question on the VBS matter.

Read the questions here

Meanwhile, the leader of government will respond to these questions

For all its limitations, this is usually an occasion of heightened interest and the most interesting exchanges happen during the follow-up questions from opposition MPs.

Both chambers have also arranged oral reply sittings with different Ministers in the Economic Cluster where they will be probed on a variety of issues - everything from specific scandals and programmes to big-picture policy and performance will be under the microscope. Generally, governing party MPs and the opposition have different objectives when it comes to these engagements: the former tends to provide Ministers with an opportunity to put government policies and actions in a favourable light while the latter aims to do the opposite.

There are several municipalities that do not have access to clean water. Further, there is growing concern about the financial woes of the Department of Water and Sanitation and its capacity to provide bulk water infrastructure. Given all of this, the NCOP has scheduled a debate titled: “Debate on the lack of accountability and monitoring by the Department of Water and Sanitation that leads to substandard quality of bulk infrastructure; and the inability of National Treasury to take action against corruption, with reference to the bulk infrastructure, to retrieve some of the money wasted”

View the full plenary programme here

There is some significant action in the Committee corridor. Here is a rundown of the highlights:

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has called the Minister to appear to tackle a variety of hot button issues affecting his Department. This includes the agreement between the Department and Fireblade Aviation; what is going to happen at the end of the contract between the Department and Visa Facilitation Service; the litigation cases against the Department; the incident that happened between the OR Tambo International Airport between the immigration officials and the Southern African Development Community dignitaries. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will get a progress report from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the implementation of the Smallscale Fisheries Policy and Fishing Rights Allocation Process 2020. The aim of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy is to provide redress and recognition of the rights of traditional fishers. (Tuesday)

The Medium Budget Policy Programme trudges on. The Standing Committee on Appropriations will hear from the Public Service Commission and Human Sciences Research Council on the 2018 MTBPS (Tuesday and Wednesday)

The President hosted a Jobs Summit in early October. The Jobs Summit brought together government, business, labour and community organisations to advance job creation. Legislators will get a briefing from the Ministry of Labour on the Jobs Summit Report of 2018. (Wednesday)

SAPS will be in the spotlight when it is probed on contract management; irregular expenditure /consequence management; status of SITA contracts (SCOPA) and bid specification, evaluation and adjudication. (Wednesday)

In August, President Ramaphosa launched a public-private partnership that will provide innovative, safe ablution facilities at nearly 4 000 mostly rural and township schools. This was a response to an emergency that had claimed the lives of children at schools. A joint committee will receive a briefing from the Department of Basic Education on sanitation backlogs at schools.

The Select Committee on Trade and International Relations is expected to ratify two international agreements: the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment and the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. (Wednesday)

The Standing Committee on Finance will discuss VBS Mutual Bank. According to the SA Reserve Bank, almost R2 billion was looted from VBS, implicating top politicians and businessmen. The Committee has previously expressed its outrage at the plunder of VBS Mutual Bank and urged the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to act swiftly and decisively against those alleged to be responsible for wrongdoing. (Wednesday)

The embattled public broadcaster will be in the hot seat when it appears before Scopa to answer questions on irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as payable and receivables. The SABC is already experiencing liquidity challenges and plans to lay off thousands of employees. (Wednesday)

The Auditor-General will brief Parliament on its 2019-2022 budget and strategic plan, including the audit directives in terms of the Public Audit Act, No 25 of 2004. (Friday)

In between, there will be plenty of unglamorous legislating as MPs consider the following bills: Division of Revenue Amendment Bill; National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill; Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill; Civil Union Amendment Bill; Electoral Amendment Bill; Firearms Control Amendment Bill; Foreign Service Bill; iKamva Bill; Municipal Structures Amendment Bill and Communal Property Association Amendment Bill.

View the full 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.


Mr Kevin Mileham (DA)

mileham

What is your political background and how did you become an MP? My father was a municipal councillor in Durban just before Apartheid ended, but unfortunately he never made it to Parliament. My political activism began at university and for the next decade I was part of all kinds of political campaigns. But it was in 2002, while I was living in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, that my formal career as a politician started. Within a couple of months of joining the local DA branch I was the chairperson. In 2006 I was elected to the local council of the Ndlambe Local Municipality. I was DA Chief Whip for five years while serving there. I then moved to East London where I served as a member of the Buffalo City Metro Council and DA Chief Whip until 2013.

I came to the National Assembly just before the end of term of the Fourth Parliament in replacement of Athol Trollip, following his decision to go back to the Eastern Cape as provincial DA leader. In 2014 I was officially elected to Parliament in my own stead and I’ve been here since.

Why the DA and not another political party? It’s the only party that appeals to my liberal values. Diversity of identity and opinion; individual liberty and the free market – these are the things I believe strongly in. The DA has also demonstrated good governance like no other party in South Africa. Its credentials as a party of non-racialism – people can say what they want about it being a “white party” and all that – are solid. Just go to any of our party congresses or public meetings and you will see this for yourself.

What does your job as MP entail? My portfolio is Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), where I am the DA Shadow Minister. As a counterpart to the COGTA Minister I oversee 257 Municipalities across all nine provinces of this country.

What are you finding most challenging about the Fifth Parliament? The conduct of presiding officers in Parliament leaves a lot to be desired: they do not obey the rules. They apply them arbitrarily, in the most biased ways. This is all done to protect the ANC. Secondly; Parliament has become a very hostile and aggressive environment since the EFF came in. I’m not saying DA members are saints but there is a certain decorum associated with being in Parliament. The EFF just do not have respect for that at all.

Do you think Parliament does a good job of holding the Executive accountable? If not, how can this be improved? Not at all! Just one an example: Parliamentary questions take a very long time to get responded to. Every year we do an analysis of which questions are answered and which are not. The DA submits probably three to five times as many questions as any other political party and a lot of them are not answered. If they are answered, this is done in such a bad way that the information given is not usable at all.

Secondly, Ministers do not appear frequently enough in Parliament and if this were in any other Parliament in the world, Ministers would have to be present at every sitting, so that when a Member raises a question, the Minister can stand up and deal with the question on the spot. That does not happen here. In the case that a Minister is asked a direct question, he can get away with a non-answer because he is always protected by the Speaker.

In a democratic Parliament, like in the UK for instance, before someone becomes the Speaker they resign from their own party to prevent being beholden to anyone in the performance of their role. In that way, when a Minister is trying to evade questions, the presiding officer is in a strong position to say: Minister, you have not answered the question.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? My party has repeatedly said we are in support of the proposals in the Van Zyl Slabbert Report of 2002 in which he said the best solution would be a mixed system where you have both direct constituency based elections and those designed along proportional representation lines.

Is Parliament’s public participation model adequate or robust enough in the run-up to the passing of legislation? I think it is a “yes and no” answer. I’m not sure that we really get the right people to comment on the issues under legislation when we go out on road shows around the country. If you take the recent public participation hearings on the Traditional Initiation Bill for instance, some of the most affected people, namely the mothers of these young initiates, and actually the initiates themselves – they were outnumbered by the traditional leaders and other traditional authority figures. So you get one side of the argument, from those causing the problem as opposed to those experiencing the problem.

That said, I do think that we have a fairly robust public participation process, particularly now that the Constitutional Court has ruled on it, as in the recent case on the Restitution of Land Rights Bill, where the Court ruled that there had not been enough public participation.

What are you passionate about? This applies both politically/professionally as well as personally. I am driven by the need to provide a better South Africa. I have two kids, and my daughter is going to University next year. When she is done I want her to have a job in a growing economy and a country where she feels safe and wants to live in; a country in which to have her own children and grow old. That is what drives me. I do not want to leave South Africa, I love my country. I had a good corporate career, but I gave it up because of my passion to make a change in South Africa, and I still think I am making that change in small ways. Of course we all want great changes but by taking these small steps we will eventually get there.

What is your message to South Africa? Don’t give up. Don’t give up. It can only get better from here.

To learn more about this Member, visit his profile.

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The Week Ahead: The state of our nation

It's a rapid descent towards the end of the year as MPs rush to finalise all urgent business.

The endgame of the current parliamentary year is fast approaching. There are only six weeks left before Parliament rises and loose ends are gradually being knitted together.

Question Time is the main chamber business this week. It is one of the ways Parliament scrutinises the work of government and holds it accountable. It is an opportunity for any lawmaker to directly question the Executive (President, Deputy President and Ministers) about matters for which they are responsible. Many of the questions touch on bread and butter issues and/or high-temperature business and the responses are generally newsworthy. An interesting part of the exercise is how the questions are structured as MPs simultaneously try to get their talking points across and ask a question. There are still concerns about ministerial attendance at these sessions despite assurances that this is being attended to.

In the NCOP chamber, three days have been set aside for Ministers in the Governance and Economic Cluster to answer questions.

Read the questions here, here and here

Meanwhile, in the NA plenary the Economic Cluster is set to appear

View the questions here

The Rules allow MPs to propose a subject for discussion – this mechanism provides an opportunity for the House to debate a particular topic without being required to take a decision at the end of the debate. It’s not hard to predict that this week’s discussion – titled: The state of our nation - what went wrong and what must be done to fix it – will be lively with the 2019 elections looming large in the background.

Beyond this, legislators will consider assorted Committee Reports and pass Bills. There is plenty of noteworthy action in the Committee corridor. Here is a rundown of the highlights:

SAPS will brief MPs on the top five stations that are reported to have high crime rates and the strategy to deal with this. Of the top ten stations with the highest murder rates, seven stations are in Cape Town, two stations in KwaZulu-Natal and one in the Eastern Cape. With 308 murders, Nyanga, Cape Town, remains the station with the highest murder rate. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will get a briefing on the National Framework for the Commercialisation of Black Farmers including a comprehensive list of the 450 black farmers that are going to be commercialised in provinces (50 farmers per province) over a 5-year period starting in 2017/18. (Tuesday)

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic wants religion to be regulated and is considering approaching the Constitutional Court to make this happen. The Commission will appear before Parliament to discuss the abuse of women and children by religious leaders/sector. (Tuesday)

The Parliamentary Budget Office and Financial and Fiscal Commission will brief legislators on the 2018 MTBPS. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Energy has arranged a roundtable discussion on the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2018. (Tuesday)

According to a Business Day report, Fireblade Aviation has been summoned to appear before the Home Affairs Committee to explain how it came to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport. The Committee has previously expressed concern that national key points are being undermined and that this is a private operation that will benefit an elite few and exclude the large majority. (Tuesday)

The Integrated Justice System “aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire criminal justice process by increasing the probability of successful investigation, prosecution, punishment for priority crimes and, ultimately, rehabilitation of offenders”. SAPS will give MPs an update on the project, with additional inputs given by National Treasury and the Parliamentary Budget Office. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation will get a follow up briefing from the Department of Water and Sanitation on the Bucket Eradication Programme (BEP) (Wednesday)

A public hearing on the 2018 MTBPS (Revised Fiscal Framework) has been scheduled (Wednesday)

Parliament’s 2017/18 Annual Report will be in the spotlight when the institution’s management briefs the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament .(Wednesday)

In between, MPs will be doing some heavy legislative lifting as they consider the following Bills: iKamva Bill; Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill; Customary Initiation Bill; Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill; National Gambling Amendment Bill; Child Justice Amendment Bill; Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill; Marine Spatial Planning; National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill; Copyright Amendment Bill; State Liability Amendment Bill; National Research Foundation Amendment Bill; Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Amendment Bill and Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill.

View the full 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.


Ms Lungi Mnganga-Gcabashe (ANC)

lungi

How did you become involved in politics and particularly, what drew you to your specific party? My political party is the African National Congress. I joined the ANC in my hometown in KwaMashu, KZN. During that period, there were UDF committees before the unbanning of the ANC I was asked to serve on a peace committee trying to bring about peace in the area, especially the K Section and J section in KwaMashu. Lindelani at the time was an informal settlement and in those years, the largest political party in Lindelani was the IFP.

There were clashes between UDF supporters and IFP supporters. There were also killings that took place. I was elected by the residents to be a representative in a peace committee. Over and above that, at some stage there was a group called AmaSinyora, which was also involved in the killing of community members. There were allegations that these people were working with the Apartheid police who was terrorising the community. There was also another informal settlement nearby established after Lindelani which was called Siyanda informal settlement. The majority of people in Siyanda were mostly supporters of the IFP. There was also a women’s organisation called the Natal Organisation of Women (NOW), affiliated to the UDF which we were recruited as UDF members and later became active, particularly during a march against the violence which was taking place in the township, from KwaMashu Railway station to the E section police station’s township office manager.

After the unbanning of the ANC, we were advised by the UDF to become active within ANC structures. We were identified to be on the interim structures of the ANC which were working on mobilising and recruiting new membership of the ANC. I served on interim structures in KwaMashu, focussing on recruiting females to join the ANC and the ANCWL. We did this voluntarily whilst continuing with private employment. We did this until the first conference of the ANC after its unbanning, which was in Durban at the then University of Durban Westville. This is where former President Nelson Mandela was elected. While hosting, we were called by the team which was appointed by the national head office of the ANC to come and work in KZN. Such a team included members who came from Robben Island and from exile and those operating within South Africa in UDF structures. We were then recruited to leave employment and work full-time for the ANC in the political organising department. This occurred around 1990/91. I was employed by the ANC on a full-time basis for 7 years thereafter as an organiser.

From mid 1997, I resigned because I believed the ANC had strong structures. I joined the local authority in Pinetown for two years in the development section of the Inner West Local Council, which was responsible for providing housing opportunities and building houses via government subsidies. I was then called by the organisation to be in the Legislature. While this happened, I never really got a break. While serving on the structures and being an organiser, I was also serving on the Regional Executive Committee of the ANCWL. At some stage I got to be the Acting Deputy Secretary and Secretary.

We went to the Legislature for five years. During my time (1999-2004), the ANC was not in power. Toward the end of the second term, I was elected as the Provincial Deputy Chairperson of the ANCWL. Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was the chairperson of the province and the Minister of International Relations at the time. She would do a lot of traveling and at times, she would not be able to represent the province. The NEC then took a decision that because of these reasons, I ought to come to the NEC and represent the province. At a later stage, I was then elected as the chairperson of the ANCWL. I was the Chairperson until the Mangaung Conference.

What does your job as an MP entail? When I got here, I was appointed as the Whip of the ANC study group. This entailed ensuring that the ANC component does attend meetings, they prepare for meetings and that the policies, resolutions and contributions of the ANC are taken on board. I served in that capacity for three and a half years since 2014 until the end of October last year, where I was elected as Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. My task as a Chairperson is to facilitate the meetings together with the support team that is provided by Parliament such as the Committee Secretary, the Researcher, Content Advisor, the Legal Advisor and the Media Liaison Officer. With this support, one is able to prepare for the meetings and the nature of the meetings to make sure that the Department of Public Enterprises comes and accounts before Parliament. The Portfolio Committee plays an oversight role for the Department as well as all entities of the Department of Public Enterprises. I chair these meetings, ensuring that all Members are able to interact with the respective participants.

What are you finding most challenging about the Fifth Parliament? There was a change in the political atmosphere of Parliament. When Parliament started, there was general respect for the House. The culture of heckling (which is allowed) was not a norm. I remember when the IFP was leading the Legislature, there were tensions, but not to the extent that we wanted to get physical. This was probably because there were committees which were set up to manage the political atmosphere, set up by the likes of Mandela and Buthelezi at a national level. This then cascaded to the provincial level. The representative of a political party in the Legislature would get direction from leadership. What I have learnt as a relatively new Member of Parliament, having joined in 2014 from the Legislature is that one has to familiarise themselves with legislation and how things are done in the National Assembly.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it? The time allocated to Members in the National Assembly and the time members get to be active in their constituencies tend to pose some problems. At times political parties want to focus on a particular program taking place in the constituency. However, this tends to clash with a program taking place in Parliament. We are told that prior to 94’, Parliament used to run for six months full-time. One then had the other 6 months for their constituency and province back home. The outcry has been that MPs are in Parliament for long periods of time and spend little time with their constituencies. The current system could be merged or structured in a way in which it could converge to the former system. It is challenging to maneuver between one’s responsibilities in Parliament and one’s constituency. Travelling arrangements in between such as accessing connecting flights from areas which are in remote places (which usually involve driving for a few hours before one gets to the airport) are a part of this challenge.

Do you think Parliament does a good job at holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this? I think it does. There is hardly a week in which there are no committee meetings. It is very rare that there are no sittings. If Parliament is in session, you will have committees working during the week, in the morning and sittings in the afternoon. Some committees work every day.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? My organisation is still happy with the proportional representation system. However, the proportional government system poses a problem at local government level. This has been the case for some time now. This is an example of why the DA is unhappy with what happened at Nelson Mandela Bay. However, even prior to that, the ANC was also unhappy with the DA taking the Johannesburg metro and the Tshwane Metro. At the time, the ANC won the majority of votes; in fact the majority of votes are still with the ANC. But because of the formula, the DA had received a higher number of PR councillors. With other smaller parties such as the EFF and UDM they could then form a government. They have taught us well as the ANC: you can form a coalition and leave out the party which has received the majority of votes. That has worked against them (DA) in Nelson Mandela Bay. It’s a bitter pill, but they have to swallow it.

Is Parliament’s public participation model adequate or robust enough that it affords enough public participation before a law is passed? I think so because if the public participation model was not in place, people would not be able to reach out to Parliament. I say this because it would only be people who have resources in terms of the tools of trade and have networks in their areas who would be able to communicate, and those who could not afford this would be left behind. Those who don’t have access to Information Technology would not be able to make submissions to Parliament; their voices would not be heard. By virtue of going to communities and conducting public hearings, it assists even people who are in deep, rural areas to come to a particular venue which has been identified and is closer to them, and local municipalities can assist with transportation. They can then come to the meetings and raise their concerns. This is a good approach.

What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? I love music. I enjoy different types of music, both South African and international music such as that of the late Aretha Franklin and Miriam Makeba. Apart from going to meetings, I enjoy movies. I also enjoy reading newspapers and magazines, just to stimulate the mind and to remain updated. Sometimes I like to take a drive and go the beach. I walk around, enjoying the sights and sounds of the sea: the waves and the breeze from the ocean.

What is your message to South Africa? If our people can bear with us, in light of unhappiness with something at local, provincial or national government level, by not destroying what has been built, it would be a step in the right direction. When you are not happy about the delivery of houses, the provision of electricity and water or the upgrading of roads, it doesn’t assist to go and burn down schools. We are all here and are able to make a contribution because we were given the opportunity by our parents to go to school. Everybody has to start at school in order to be something in future. School is very important, even at Grade R level, kindergarten or crèche and early childhood education centres. Don’t burn those facilities. The community hall, libraries etc are all important. When we grew up in the townships, we never had libraries, but today we have libraries. To burn those facilities is really counter-productive. Their availability enables children to access books and encourages a culture of reading. When such a facility is burnt down, the local municipality or province has to allocate more resources financially from the budget, to rebuild infrastructure which has been destroyed. Furthermore, one can’t implement everything over a three or five year period. That is why the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) processes at local government level are very important.

To learn more about this Member, visit her profile.

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The Week Ahead: Mini-budget, Debates & Hearings

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

The highlights include the mini-Budget, important debates, legislative business and high-profile Committee hearings.

All eyes will be on the new Minister of Finance when he delivers the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday. The MTBPS outlines the economic context against which the 2019 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. The Minister has a tough job to do as he seeks to stimulate the economy, contain expenditure and satisfy ratings agencies. All of this must be achieved against a background of a recession, low growth, high unemployment, increasing government debt to GDP, failing SOEs, high fuel prices, a growing public sector wage bill, extreme inequality and growing pressure from the public. Under the current economic conditions, government will have to do more with less.

The Finance Minister is expected to give more details on the review of zero-rated items, steps to strengthen public finance management, and the recently announced economic stimulus package.

In addition, he is likely to revise National Treasury’s growth projection downwards. With so much at stake, the markets and South Africans will be watching to see what balancing act the Minister achieves.

The other excitement will be the debate on Tuesday on the VBS Mutual Bank Report titled “The Great Bank Heist”. According to the SA Reserve Bank, almost R2 billion was looted from VBS, implicating top politicians and businessmen. In a media statement, the ANC says it “saw it prudent to bring this matter of public importance, affecting the most vulnerable of our people...” The fallout has been significant sparking legal challenges, a potential parliamentary inquiry and service delivery challenges in the affected municipalities.

Beyond this, the NA chamber is set to pass a few Bills, international instruments and Committee reports.

Elsewhere, the NCOP has schedule two sittings. On Tuesday, it has scheduled a debate on International Day of Rural Women under the theme: “The Time is Now: Improving food security and eradicating rural poverty". On Thursday, the upper House will debate the high unemployment rate in South Africa and ways of turning the tide by growing the economy and creating jobs.

There’s lots of action in Committee-land. Legislation, mega-important spending decisions and headline-grabbing hearings dominate the Committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The budget theme starts on Tuesday when the Joint Appropriations and Finance Committees receive a pre-MTBPS briefing from the Parliamentary Budget Office. The PBO is supposed to provide independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implications of proposals ahead of the speech. (Tuesday)

8 municipalities in Limpopo invested R1.2 billion in VBS Bank. This was in violation of the Public Finance Management Act, which does not permit depositing public funds into a mutual bank. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will brief the oversight committee on the municipalities affected by this. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Communications will get a briefing from ICASA on the Sports Broadcasting Regulations. This has been a sore point for the public broadcaster as it grapples to fulfil its mandate with depleted funding. (Tuesday)

Public hearings on the Draft Integrated Resource Plan resume this week. (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday)

Last month, the Police Committee received a briefing on the annual crime statistics. It will engage with relevant role-players like Stats SA, Academic Civil Society, CSPS and SAPS to analyse these statistics. (Wednesday)

Earlier this year, mining companies in the gold sector reached a historic agreement with mineworkers suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis. Lawmakers will get an update on the settlement. (Wednesday)

Bucket Eradication and Acid Mine Drainage will be in the spotlight when the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation meets with the Department. (Wednesday)

After stalling a few times, the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises has again scheduled a meeting to consider the first draft of the Eskom inquiry report. (Wednesday)

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee has scheduled additional hearings on whether section 25 of the Constitution should be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. (Thursday and Friday)

MPs sitting on the Standing Committee on Appropriations, Select Committee on Appropriations, Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance will be able to interrogate the Minister of Finance after he briefs them on the MTBPS. (Thursday)

In between, there's some important law-making afoot as MPs consider the following bills: iKamva Bill; Electoral Amendment; Electoral Laws Amendment Bill; Regulations on the Public Audit Amendment Bill; National Health Laboratory Services Amendment Bill; National Public Health Institute of South Africa Bill; National Gambling Amendment Bill; National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill; Small Enterprise Ombud Service Bill; Customary Initiation Bill; Films and Publication Amendment Bill and Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Bill.

View the full 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.


Have your say about public healthcare medical negligence claims!

Medical negligence claims at public healthcare facilities have reached a crisis point with a 45% increase in four years. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said it is "wreaking havoc" and that part of this is not negligence but is due to people working in syndicates to defraud the state through bogus medical negligence claims. These syndicates consist of lawyers and some in the health profession itself. There are syndicates in State Attorneys Offices mismanaging cases deliberately so the state loses. There are hospital executives who report to the lawyers in these syndicates to start litigation. The Health budget cannot meet the billions claimed.

The new State Liability Amendment Bill proposes scrapping lump sum settlements for medical negligence claims of more than R1 million and replacing them with a structured settlement plan with scheduled payments. Successful claimants will receive future healthcare services at public health facilities that meet the standards of the Office of Health Standards Compliance. Claimants will be able to use private healthcare services, but will be liable for the portion of the bills that exceed public sector rates. The Bill aims to stop the massive fraud in provinces and having periodic payments solves the problem that the unused portion of a lump sum for future medical expenses was not retrievable by the state once the claimant died.

Have your say about public healthcare medical negligence claims:

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The Week Ahead: President, Annual Reports & Provincial Week Top Agenda

The major point of interest will come from the high-profile Question Time session with the President in the National Assembly chamber.

The President will have his regular engagement with lawmakers on Thursday. In terms of the rules, these oral question sessions happen once per term, are three hours long and are limited to six main and supplementary questions. This is his final interaction with NA lawmakers for this year.

President Ramaphosa will be probed on a variety of issues this week, including the recently unveiled stimulus and recovery plan, the spate of community protests, SA's role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and the loan agreement signed with China.

Read the questions here

It's a another big week in the Committee corridor where lawmakers will be dealing with leftover Annual Reports and finalising Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRRs) which must be completed before the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement is delivered on 24 October.

Section 5 of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (No. 9 of 2009) compels the National Assembly to, through its Committees, submit annual BRR Reports on the financial performance of departments and entities accountable to Parliament. The BRR Report must be informed by a Committee’s interrogation of, amongst others, national departments’ Estimates of National Expenditure, strategic priorities, measurable objectives and forward-funding needs, National Treasury-published expenditure reports, the relevant Annual Reports and financial statements, the Auditor-General of South Africa’s (AGSA) audit findings as well as observations made during all other oversight activities. The Report further makes budget review and recommendations for consideration by the Minister responsible for the Vote as well as the Minister of Finance.

This gruelling schedule has again brought into sharp focus the tight deadlines and raises questions about how effective parliamentary oversight is. On several occasions, the proceedings were hurried, questions were not probing and MPs were presented with the documents for the first time at the meeting. While it has become practice for Ministers and Deputy Ministers to be present at these meetings, some failed to pitch up - much to the consternation of legislators. Besides budget-related matters, everything from statutory appointments, detailed-lawmaking and big-picture policy will be under the microscope.

Elsewhere, the National Council of Provinces delegates will spend the week in various provinces visiting projects and checking on service delivery – as part of Oversight Week - interacting with government officials, the business sector and the public. Each Committee or cluster of Committees (if there are cross-cutting issues) chooses their own oversight priorities and which province(s) to visit. The Ad Hoc Committee to Inquire into the Intervention in the North West Provincial Government, in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution, will embark on a week-long oversight visit to the province. Due to several governance challenges observed in the North West province, Cabinet resolved, on 9 May 2018, to invoke section 100(1) of the Constitution in the North West Provincial Government. This is the Committee’s second visit to the province after the previous trip had to be aborted due various logistical and other challenges.

Once again, the Committee corridor is the main site for most of the work – there are approximately 50 meetings scheduled. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will be in the spotlight when the Portfolio Committee on Energy holds two days of public hearings on the topic. Experts, stakeholders and other interested persons are expected to give their views on the long-term planning of power (electricity) generation from various energy resources in South Africa. (Tuesday and Wednesday)

Read this useful summary about what the IRP 2018 is all about: https://www.esi-africa.com/what-is-the-irp-2018/

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has arranged a wide-ranging meeting to discuss topical issues affecting the agricultural sector: this includes implementation of the Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan; challenges facing the poultry industry and decline in agricultural productivity. (Tuesday)

Legislators will shortlist candidates to be interviewed to fill vacancies on the SABC Board. Thereafter, this recruitment process will be followed by qualification verification check; state security consultation; public participation; interview process; deliberations process; Committee recommendation and National Assembly adoption. (Tuesday)

SCOPA had previously expressed concern about huge sums of money being spent on maintaining ministerial residences and that some of them were not even occupied. The Committee will tackle this matter head on when it meets with the Prestige Portfolio. (Wednesday)

It’s taken about 16 months, hours of testimony and volumes of documents but finally the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises is set to consider the first draft of the Eskom Inquiry report. The Committee will be presented with the initial report - thereafter it will be sent to implicated persons to respond to the allegations against them before a final report is drafted. (Wednesday)

In between, legislation will be a key focus with Committees dealing with several Bills at various stages of their passage: iKamva Bill, Competition Amendment Bill; Municipal Structures Amendment Bill; Copyright Amendment Bill; Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill; Rates and Monetary Amounts; Tax Bills and Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Bill.

View the full 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.