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The Week Ahead: Legislation, Appointments & Question Time

The major point of interest will come from Tuesday’s debate on the Special Appropriation Bill in the National Assembly Chamber. The Bill allocates an additional R59bn to Eskom over the next two years.

In recommending the Bill, the Standing Committee on Appropriations stated that “the proposed conditions are not stringent enough however it would be too risky to the fiscus to amend the Bill at this stage in order to include specific conditions”.

Political parties are expected to criticise the power utility after the recent round of load shedding, reject the bailout (some parties) and demand answers on the power crises.

On Tuesday, the Leader of Government Business will have his regular engagement with lawmakers when he appears to answer oral questions. These sessions happen once per month during session and are limited to six main and supplementary questions. In addition, the questions must be restricted to matters of national and international importance, as assigned to the Deputy President by the President. Currently, the Deputy President is responsible for, among other things, social cohesion, the moral regeneration movement, manages the interaction between the Executive and Parliament, is special envoy to South Sudan, chairs a number of Inter-Ministerial committees and is chairperson of the South African Aids Council and Human Resource Development Council.

In line with the broad tasks delegated to the Deputy President, he will be probed on a variety of issues.

Beyond this, select Ministers in the Economic Cluster will answer oral questions in the National Assembly. Everything from specific policy, to controversies and performance will be in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, it is Committee Oversight Week in the NCOP. This is one of the ways to make sure NCOP committees keep in touch with developments and challenges facing provinces and report on their activities.

On the sidelines, the Speaker’s Forum, comprising nine provincial Speakers, the National Assembly Speaker and Chairperson of National Council of Provinces, will convene over two days to discuss issues of mutual concern in the legislative sector.

There are a number of interesting meetings scheduled in the Committee corridor that are guaranteed to generate headlines. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The Mayor of Johannesburg has complained repeatedly that the Department of Home Affairs has failed to deal with the issue of undocumented foreigners and wrote to Parliament requesting an opportunity to give details on this matter. Parliament has scheduled a joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs with various stakeholders to discuss matters raised by the Mayor in order to promote social cohesion, manage illegal migration and prevent xenophobia. (Tuesday)

MPs will receive a briefing from Equal Education Law Centre on the State of Education Report (2014-19). This report presents additional, and in some cases, alternative critical information on the nature and extent of the Department’s progress. At the same meeting, MPs will get a briefing on the Limpopo Sanitation Report. (Tuesday)

Lawmakers will receive a briefing on the Department of Correctional Services 2018/19 Annual Report. Going by past meetings, we can expect to hear the familiar story that overcrowding poses a serious threat in correctional facilities, where the most common concerns are the safety of inmates and officials, insufficient bed spaces, corruption within correctional facilities, and the prevalence of escapes. (Tuesday)

In his latest open letter, the President said that Eskom is owed billions and that a culture of non-payment exists in several parts of the country. Recently, Eskom told Parliament that the inter-ministerial task team that was formed to recover R20 billion owed by municipalities, government departments and households has failed to get the money back. MPs will get an update from the inter-ministerial committee (Tuesday).

Last year, Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs recommended that the Department of Environmental Affairs should as a matter of urgency initiate a policy and legislative review of Captive Breeding of Lions for hunting and Lion bone trade with a view to putting an end to this practice and that the Minister of Environmental Affairs should submit quarterly reports to the Portfolio Committee on the progress of this policy and legislative review. The Committee will get an update from NGOs on the state of captive lion breeding in South Africa and the Economics thereof. (Tuesday)

Previously, Parliament was told that outstanding municipal debt for water is putting some water boards at risk of going under and affecting the ability of the Department of Water and Sanitation to maintain infrastructure. An Inter-Ministerial Task Team was established to devise a plan to resolve the outstanding debt in more structured way. Legislators will get an update from the relevant stakeholders on what is being done to assist assisting municipalities to pay the debt owed. (Tuesday)

The Parliamentary Budget Office plays an important role in advising parliamentarians about public finance issues. MPs will discuss the appointment of the Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office. This post has been vacant for over a year, with the previous Parliament preferring to leave this task to the Sixth Parliament. (Tuesday)

Two committees will be dealing with external appointments: the Portfolio Committee on Communications will discuss the appointment process of ICASA Councillors while the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration (Sub-Committee) will shortlist candidates to be interviewed for the Public Service Commission Board vacancy. (Tuesday)

There will be a follow up meeting with SAPS on the Firearm Amnesty. SAPS previously presented that the removal of illegal firearms was in the public interest, as firearms were the instrument most commonly used in especially violent crimes. MPs were not convinced that crime rates would be brought down, as it would be mostly law-abiding citizens who would surrender weapons. SAPS state of readiness for the project was questioned, as public trust and information about the project first had to be built and made available. There were risks attached to what would happen to collected weapons, and the possibility that criminals might target known storage facilities. SAPS was instructed to take the Committee’s issues on board and return with a re-submission. (Wednesday)

The Auditor-General will brief MPs on the Audit Outcome 2018/19. Over this period, the AGSA conducted 11% more audits than in 2015/16. The AGSA is expected to express concern that audit outcomes for departments, public entities and municipalities have been regressing over the years. Financial and going concern matters remain a challenge at most of the auditees and specifically, for a number of strategic state-owned enterprises. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will discuss the selection criteria when considering candidates to fill the position of Deputy Public Protector. The public had until last week raise objections to list of candidates who applied or were nominated. Also, the Committee will get a briefing on the responses to submissions on the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill.

Foster care backlogs are firmly on the radar for the Portfolio Committee on Social Development as the deadline for the implementation of the North Gauteng High court order on foster care approaches. It has had multiple meetings on this topic and will again get a progress update. Also on the agenda for the Committee is a briefing on Gender Based Violence, femicide, violence and murder of children. (Wednesday)

Now that the NA has concluded its work, the Select Committee on Appropriations will consider and process the Special Appropriation Bill. The Committee has already held several joint meetings with its counterpart on the bill so delegates are familiar with the bill. (Wednesday)

The Department of Mineral Resources will brief MPs on the grid and non-grid electrification. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises will hear from Transnet on its 2018/19 annual report. (Wednesday)

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will shortlist candidates to be interviewed for the Deputy Public Protector vacancy. (Thursday)

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.


Everything You Need to Know About Constituency Offices

Many are unaware of the fact that even though South Africa makes use of a Proportional Representation electoral system, meaning that our elected representatives (Members of Parliament) are not elected from geographic areas in the way Ward Councillors are in Local Government elections, MPs remain duty-bound to interact with the public. One way in which this interaction is carried out is through Constituency Offices.

People's Assembly aims to connect the public and their elected representatives. We've put together a piece explaining constituency offices in more detail and how People's Assembly makes it easier to access your MPs and constituency offices!

https://www.pa.org.za/media_root/file_archive/PCOs_updated2.jpg


Petitions: How to get your voice heard in Parliament

In South Africa, Section 17 of the Constitution creates the right for everyone to present petitions. Public participation in law-making, oversight and other processes of Parliament, therefore, is an integral part of our democracy. Parliament has developed a number of ways to promote public involvement in the work of the institution. One of these ways is by submitting a petition.

A petition is a written complaint or request to Parliament or a provincial legislature seeking its intervention or assistance. In today’s complex society with a diverse set of issues, it is also used as a means of strengthening democracy, by ensuring that members of the public are included in governance structures and are involved in every decision taken in the chambers.

There are mainly two types of petitions. The first type is a public petition, this is when a group of people requests intervention or assistance on specific issues and grievances. The second type is the special petition, where there is a specific plea from an individual requesting that the state address a personal grievance. More recently, however, with the advent of the internet, there is an additional type of petition that is being used more frequently to drive some of the mass movements and campaigns we are seeing today. These are known as online petitions or e-petitions, they are a form of petition which is signed online, usually through a form on a website.

How do you submit a petition?

Are petitions effective?

Petitions are representative of how people feel about certain issues, long after the voting has happened. Signing a petition has become part and parcel of protesting politics and fighting injustices. Although adding your signature to a cause has become a stalwart of modern protests how do you translate such mammoth support into meaningful change?

Supporters of petitions believe that they help build awareness around a specific issue. As signatures accumulate and a strong, united voice is formed, the media may even catch on and help bring the matter to the attention of even more people. Surely, it’s not that easy to ignore 100 000 signatures right? Not necessarily.

Early this year more than six million people in the UK signed a petition calling on the government to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50. That petition was representative of approximately 10% of the UK’s population, nevertheless, the government still rejected this petition and ruled out canceling Brexit. On the other hand, here in South Africa, it was the 600 000 plus signatures on various petitions against gender-based violence that led to the mass mobilization of people across the country in the month of August following the murder of UCT student Uyinene Mretyana. This on the background of the Gender-based violence Summit in the Presidency, led by the #TotalShutdown Movement and the much recent #SandtonShutdown, led by the Black Womxn Caucus. The outcomes of these campaigns are yet to unfold. However, petitions are an effective way of raising awareness or showing discontent and ensuring that the adoption of public demands into policy remains subject to the usual political process.

Challenges in petitioning

As it stands, dealing with petitions is the lowest priority item in the ordering of parliamentary business. Delays in processing petitions remain a concern. The lack of public awareness around the petitions process and the non-attendance of key stakeholders at hearings plagues on. Petitions submitted need to be specific and dodge party political issues to avoid being derailed in parliament.

In addition to this, though many might argue that petitions are instrumental in raising awareness, they arguably also allow people to feel as though they have taken action when they haven't, potentially preventing individuals from pursuing more hands-on activism.

Constituency offices are under-utilized. These offices play an integral role in assisting the public to bring petitions before the relevant Parliamentary committee, and thus greater public awareness around the role of these offices must be prioritized.

In conclusion, whether a petition achieves a change in policy should not be the main question. The key starting point is whether it raises awareness of the issue and whether it raises the profile of a specific issue enough to lead the government to eventually agree for a change. People should remain cognizant that the impacts of petitions can stretch beyond immediate results. Changing policy is a messy process, and achieving change often requires long and convoluted processes of campaigning combined with moments of exerting pressure at the right time. Whether they work to create legislative change, or just raise awareness of an issue, there’s some merit to signing them. Even if nothing happens immediately, petitions are one of many ways we can help build long-term change. Visit the Petitions page on People’s Assembly to read up more on petitions.

Sources:

https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/deepening-democracy-petitions--what-are-they-and-h

https://www.parliament.gov.za/petitions

https://www.lobbyists4good.org/single-post/2018/06/07/Why-Online-Petitions-Do-Not-Work

https://theconversation.com/not-another-online-petition-but-heres-why-you-should-think-before-deleting-it-110029


Sahlulele Luzipo (ANC)

"I'm a product of the struggles of the toiling masses of our people. I was nominated by branches of the ANC to be on the National list to parliament"

What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?

I'm a product of the student movement, who graduated to the trade union movement. My last position being the Cosatu KZN Provincial secretary. I've been an SACP PEC,PWC and Deputy Provincial Secretary. I've also served as a PEC and PWC member of the ANC in KZN. I'm a product of the struggles of the toiling masses of our people. I was nominated by branches of the ANC to be on the National list to parliament

What does your job as an MP entail? What do you enjoy about being an MP?

The primary responsibility of an MP is law making, holding the executive to account and representing the interests of our people. It's not about enjoying being an MP but a commitment to serve, I can say without doubt that if it was about enjoying then I would have stayed with workers in COSATU. There's a lot of mistrust surrounding Parliamentarians and we continue to strive trying to prove the contrary.

What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the Sixth Parliament?

Well, I have no aspirations of my own except those of my organisation. Those are clearly and well articulated in the ANC manifesto, the Resolutions of the Conference as well as the NDP.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?

Surely it is the budget, staffing and programming. Parliament must determine its own budget not be dependent on the executive that is expected to exercise oversight. We should also reorganise programming to have less plenary sessions and more committee meetings and oversight.

Which Constituency Office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of Constituency work you engaged in?

Howick, with more focus on community challenges and assist in government programmes.

Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?

Most definitely, but the challenge is capacity both administratively and financially.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favor of electoral reform?

I think a mixed electoral systems could work and complement each other.

What can be done to get citizens more interested/ involved in Parliament? Is this an area where Parliament can improve and if so, what recommendations do you have? What are you passionate about? This applies both in political/ professional arena as well as personally? There has to be more mass mobilisation work in the same way as during electioneering. We need to ensure that we build an activist Parliament.

What is your message to South Africa? South Africans must claim their parliament and continue to demand accountability.

To learn more about this Member, visit his profile.

More MP blogs.


The Week Ahead: Question Time & high-profile meetings

Question time is the main business in both chambers this week. The practice of oral questions is an established part of the parliamentary day and gives MPs an opportunity to question the Executive about matters for which they are responsible.

Everything from specific scandals and programmes to big-picture policy to bread-and-butter issues 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 the Executive with an opportunity to put government policies and actions in a favourable light while the latter aims to do the opposite.

For all its limitations, this is usually an occasion of heightened interest and can sometimes be revealing.

In the National Assembly, the Deputy President will answer 6 main questions plus follow-up questions. Two of the standout questions are about the role of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on service delivery at district level and government plans to accelerate land reform to improve access to land for economic development and human settlement.

In the NCOP, select Ministers in the Governance cluster will be probed on a variety of topics including the Ministerial Handbook, public servants with criminal records and concerns of traditional leaders.

It's 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 (MTBPS) is delivered on 30 October.

Section 5 of the Money Bills Amendment Act states that ‘the National Assembly, through its committees, must annually assess the performance of each national department’ and, that committees must ‘annually submit budgetary review and recommendation reports (BRRR) for tabling in the National Assembly for each department’.

The BRRR is 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 audit findings as well as observations made during all other oversight activities. The Report makes recommendations for consideration by the affected Minister as well as the Minister of Finance.

After the BRRR is adopted, Parliament and its committees will then consider the MTBPS. The MTBPS includes a review of actual departmental spending for the first six months of the current fiscal year as well as multi-year budget projections for revenue, expenditure and key macro-economic projections.

Orientation and training is essential to prepare MPs and make them more effective. In line with Parliament’s commitment to develop, empower and give MPs a deeper understanding of their work, the NCOP has organised a two-day workshop training for delegates. The topics include lawmaking, public involvement and oversight and accountability.

Away from Plein Street, legislators will be participating in events at the Pan African Parliament, 141st International Parliamentary Union Assembly and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum.

In addition, the Standing Committee on Appropriations will visit Eskom from Monday to Wednesday to discuss, amongst other things, governance, cost escalations and liquidity issues.

Also, the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will continue with its visit to municipalities in Limpopo province to ascertain the state of service delivery in those areas.

The Committee corridor is again the site for most of the parliamentary activities. There are more than 30 meetings scheduled. Here is a rundown of the highlights:

The Land Bank will brief the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on transformation activities and the AgriBEE Fund. (Tuesday)

Last month, the Minister of Basic Education announced plans to introduce a General Education Certificate (GEC). In response to sharp criticism of this plan, the Department clarified that it was misleading to view the proposed Grade 9 certificate as a way for learners to leave school. Instead, it was aimed at sending more students to technical education institutions. MPs will get an update from the Department on this proposal. (Tuesday)

The Special Investigating Authority (SIU) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will be in the spotlight when both present their 2018/19 Annual Reports. Last year, Parliament noted that budgetary constraints place severe strain on the NPA’s ability to function optimally and deliver services. It further highlighted that the SIU’s difficulty in recovering monies owed to it for services from state institutions. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans will hear from the Department of Defence and National Treasury on the current budget shortfall in terms of Compensation of Employees as well as funding for the Defence Review Work Packages. When approving the Department’s budget earlier in the year, the Committee expressed concern regarding the current financial constraints within the defence domain and that this may impact negatively on the ability of the SANDF to fulfil its constitutional mandate. Most significantly, the Committee noted that, for the past three financial years, insufficient funds were available to cover expenditure related to compensation of employees and that the expenditure ceiling in this regard were breached. (Tuesday)

Engagements with the Public Investment Corporation and South African Broadcasting Corporation on their 2018/19 Annual Reports will generate interest. (Tuesday)

SCOPA will get an update from the SIU on municipalities under investigation and get a briefing from the NPA on cases referred by the SIU. (Wednesday)

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Financial Intelligence Centre will be in the limelight when they present their 2018/19 Annual Reports. (Wednesday)

The Sub-Committee on Public Service and Administration will shortlist candidates for the Public Service Commission Board vacancy. (Thursday)

Last month, MPs heard that the continued reduction of the budget of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), compromised its ability to carry out its constitutional mandate. The SANDF will brief MPs on its organisational structure, force levels and plans at organisational renewal and force renewal. (Thursday)

The Office of the Public Protector’s Annual Report briefing will round off the week. Going by past appearances, this will be a must watch event. This will also be an opportunity for MPs to bid farewell to the Deputy Public Protector who is departing at the end of the year.

The Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 will meet to finalise arrangements for a planned workshop with experts on the land question and amending the Constitution. (Friday)

The Subcommittee on Review of the National Assembly Rules will consider matters referred by the Rules Committee. This includes the drafting of rules for the removal of heads of chapter 9 institutions. (Friday)

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.


NHI Timeline: Key dates and events

The analyses and debates about the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill rage on following its introduction to Parliament early August. The tabling of the Bill was long in coming as the mooting of ideas to reform healthcare financing in South Africa are not new and date as far back as the late 1920s. In the infographic below, we trace the historical timeline of the Bill (only looking at the democratic dispensation) and highlight key dates and events, from when healthcare financing proposals were initially put forward, to date.

1994: Healthcare Finance Committee

In the early 1990s, the spotlight turned to the possibility of introducing some form of mandatory health insurance and after the 1994 elections; there were several policy initiatives that considered either social or national health insurance. The Healthcare Finance Committee of 1994 recommended that all formally employed individuals and their immediate dependents should initially form the core membership of social health insurance arrangements with a view to expanding coverage to other groups over time.

1995: Commission of Inquiry on National Health Insurance

The 1995 Commission of Inquiry on National Health Insurance fully supported the recommendations of the 1994 Committee. A strong case was made for primary healthcare services by its commissioners but is unclear whether their recommendations were taken forward fully at that time.

1997: The Social Health Insurance Working Group

In 1997, the Social Health Insurance Working Group developed the regulatory framework that resulted in the enactment of the Medical Schemes Act in 1998. This Act was meant to regulate private health insurance as well as entrench the principles of open enrolment, community rating, prescribed minimum benefits and better governance of medical schemes. However, despite the introduction of the Act and the supporting principles the level of coverage for the national population has remained below 16 percent.

1998: Big Pharma versus Nelson Mandela

In February 1998, the South African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and 39 mostly multinational pharmaceutical companies took the Government of South Africa to court, saying that its attempts to increase the availability of affordable medicines violated both the South African Constitution and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Following international public outrage over the companies’ legal challenge, the case was unconditionally dropped in early 2001.

2002: Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security for South Africa

In 2002, the Department of Social Development set up the Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security for South Africa. The Commission recommended that there be mandatory cover for all those in the formal sector earning above a given tax threshold and that contributions should be income-related and collected as a dedicated tax for health. The Committee also recommended that the State should create a national health fund through which resources should be channelled to public facilities through the government budget processes.

2002: Ministerial Task Team on Social Health Insurance

To implement the recommendations of the aforesaid Committee, the Department of Health established the Ministerial Task Team on Social Health Insurance. The Task Team’s primary mandate was to draft an implementation plan with concrete proposals on how to move towards social health insurance and to create supporting legislative and create supporting legislation and institutional mechanisms that will in the long term result in the realisation of National Health Insurance in South Africa. However, the path to achieving universal coverage through a social health insurance model was not widely supported and the implementation of the supporting proposals thus stalled.

2009: Advisory Committee on National Health Insurance

In August 2009, the Ministerial Advisory Committee was established and tasked with providing the Minister and Department of Health with recommendations regarding the relevant health system reforms and matters relating to the design and roll-out of National Health Insurance. This was to carry forward the Resolution passed at the ruling ANC’s Polokwane Conference in 2007.

2011: Department of Health Policy Paper

In mid-2011, the Department of Health released a policy paper titled “NHI in South Africa” for public consultation. The paper proclaimed that “South Africa is in the process of introducing an innovative system of healthcare financing with far-reaching consequences on the health of South Africans.” The National Health Insurance was to ensure that everyone has access to appropriate, efficient and quality health services.

2012-2017: NHI pilot projects rollout

Following release of the 2011 policy paper, implementation phase commenced in 2012, with its overarching focus being the piloting of health system strengthening (HSS) initiatives; the establishment of the NHI Fund and key institutions; and the moving of central hospitals to the national sphere. According to then Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the transition was expected to take about 15 years in three phases.

2015: Department of Health White Paper

In 2015, the Department of Health released a white paper titled ‘National Health Insurance for South Africa: Towards universal health coverage.’ It “laid the foundation for moving South Africa towards universal health coverage (UHC) through the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) and establishment of a unified health system.”[1] The Department pointed out that implementation of NHI will require amendments to related existing legislation and enactment of new laws to ensure that there is not only legislative alignment but also policy consistency across government departments and spheres of government. The paper would serve as the precursor to the drafting and subsequent introduction of NHI Bill.

2018: National Health Insurance draft Bill

In June 2018, the Department of Health invited written comments from the public on the proposed draft NHI Bill. The draft Bill’s aim was “to provide mandatory prepayment health care services in the Republic in pursuance of section 27 of the Constitution; to establish a National Health Insurance Fund and to set out its powers, functions and governance structures; to provide a framework for the active purchasing of health care services by the Fund on behalf of users; to create mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of the resources of the Fund to meet the health needs of users; to preclude or limit undesirable, unethical and unlawful practices in relation to the Fund and its users; and to provide for matters connected herewith.”

2019: Introduction of NHI Bill before Parliament

In August 2019, the NHI Bill was introduced to Parliament and is currently under consideration by the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Health. The Bill will have to go through the stipulated parliamentary processes, which will include a public participation period, which might inform some amendments to the Bill, before it is put before the National Assembly for a vote. The Portfolio Committee has invited stakeholders and interested parties to submit written submissions on the Bill. You can find the full details and a guide on how to write a submission by following the links. This is an opportunity for all South Africans to have their voices heard and give meaningful input to legislative processes.

On the 30th of August 2019, the Portfolio Committee on Health put out a call for comments on the NHI Bill. The deadline for submissions is 29 Novermber 2019.


Ms Siviwe Gwarube (DA)

Parliament should also ensure that the issues which concern South Africans are the matters that are being dealt with.

What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?

I began my career in politics as a professional staff member working in communications. I worked with the then leader of the opposition in parliament, Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko back in 2012. I then moved on to work for the Western Cape government as a spokesperson and the Head of Ministry for the Department of Health in the province. In the lead up to and during the 2019 elections, I was the Executive Director of Communications for the DA before seeking public office and being elected.

What does your job as an MP entail? What do you enjoy about being an MP?

The role of an MP is multi-faceted: you contend with legislation, you hold the executive to account on behalf of the people of South Africa, you drive issues relating to the portfolio that you have been allocated, you conduct oversight visits to health facilities across the country and you work in your constituency to effectively deliver to the people in our communities. I enjoy the various parts of this role as they are designed to improve the lives of the people that we are meant to serve.

What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the Sixth Parliament? The single most critical issue in this 6th Parliament is how we deal with the unemployment crisis that has seen over 10 million South Africans without gainful employment, and close to 50% of young people without a job. This is urgent and requires the attention of this Parliament.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it? Parliament must assert its role as the legislative arm of the country. We need to take our role of holding the executive to account, in spite of party political lines. Once Parliament takes its role seriously, the country will be better for it.

Which Constituency Office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of Constituency work you engaged in?

I have been allocated the DA Students Organization (DASO) across the Western Cape. The key issue on campuses for young people at the moment is certainly safety on campuses and in their communities.

Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?

As stated above, I believe that not enough is being done to allow Parliament to assert its role. The country is poorer, as a result. It is only through effective executive accountability that we can really change the lives of the people who have elected us to office.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favor of electoral reform?

There are advantages to the PR system which allows for representation of smaller political parties. However, electoral reform could allow for greater accountability of public representatives. This could allow people to be able to remove and replace non-performing public representatives.

What can be done to get citizens more interested/ involved in Parliament? Is this an area where Parliament can improve and if so, what recommendations do you have? What are you passionate about? This applies both in political/ professional arena as well as personally?

Parliament should become the centre of public debate where only the best ideas are passed as legislation and policy proposals. Parliament should also ensure that the issues which concern South Africans are the matters that are being dealt with. The work of parliament should be closely linked to communities in order to make it easier for people to be involved in the work that is being done by their public representatives. I am deeply passionate about access to reproductive health for rural women and also access to opportunities for young women and girls in our country

What is your message to South Africa? My message to South Africans is that: Parliament is yours. You need to utilize it to hold your government to account and to hold those you have elected to account. Citizens must demand that the issues that parliament concerns itself with, are the issues that South Africans are facing.

To learn more about this Member, visit her profile.

More MP blogs.


The Week Ahead: MPs return and President appears

Parliament resumes this week after a two-week constituency period. The final term will run for nine weeks and the programme is packed with activities. Some of the highlights include committee, oversight and legislative work; oral questions to the executive;Taking Parliament to the People report back event and a review of the national budget.

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

Annual Report Season and Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)

It's that time of the year when parliamentary committees conduct performance assessments of government departments and entities. The performance assessments will be achieved through the scrutiny of their 2018/19 Annual Reports and financial statements. This will enable committees to compile an informed Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR). These Reports include recommendations on the future use of resources and are a critical part of Parliament’s engagement with the budget.

Given their involvement in the legislative, budget and in-year monitoring processes, portfolio committees are ideally placed to exercise oversight of the service delivery performance of departments and public entities that fall within the same portfolios. Indeed portfolio committees’ role in overseeing annual reports is crucial to closing the accountability loop of planning, budgeting, implementation, reporting, auditing and, finally, oversight. In essence, the portfolio committees should exercise oversight as to whether departments, public entities and constitutional institutions have delivered on the service delivery promises they made in their strategic plans and which the legislature agreed to finance by appropriating public funds through the Budget.

National Treasury: Guideline for legislative oversight through annual report, 2005

One of the regular criticisms about the Annual Report season is that timeframes are very short and meaningful public engagement does not take place. Critics point out that committees need time to apply their minds, the Parliamentary Budget Office and other advisory bodies need time to do substantive analysis and the public needs time to absorb details and make representations. An interesting side issue is to keep track of how is the attendance of Ministers and Deputy Ministers at committee level.

Later this month, the Minister of Finance will present the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament. The MTBPS outlines the economic context against which the 2020 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 this year.

The first two weeks of the programme are packed as virtually all portfolio committees meet to pore over the Annual Reports of the department and entities reporting to them. This process also takes on a new dimension as this is the first time many MPs will be going through this laborious activity (approximately 42% of NA MPs are rookies)

Legislation

We are now 5 months into the Sixth Parliament and only 1 bill has been passed. This statistic is unsurprising and even understandable if you compare this with previous Pariaments over the same time period.

There will however be an improvement in this statistic over the next term as lawmakers process and finalise assorted tax bills, the Eskom bill and legislation accompanying the MTBPS.

In addition, committees are under pressure to meet constitutional court deadlines to fix defects in certain laws. This incudes the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development which is fast tracking the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill.

Beyond this, there are plans to revive specific bills that lapsed at the end of the previous Parliament. These leftover Bills cover an array of issues, including gambling, border management, cybercrimes, traditional courts and civil unions to name a few. This is expected to happen incrementally.

All of this though is likely to be overshadowed by the processing of the National Health Insurance Bill. The reactions so far indicate that this bill will face a long and difficult journey: there will be protracted deliberations and much haranguing amongst stakeholders and MPs. Public hearings on the bill will start in Mpumalanga from 25-28 October. Thereafter, it will move to the Northern Cape from 1-4 November.

Appointments

Even with a packed schedule, lawmakers have set time aside to interview and recommend candidates for appointment to several statutory bodies – this includes the Office of the Public Protector (Deputy Public Protector) and ICASA. Members of the public have a few days left to comment on the nominees/applicants for the position of Deputy Public Protector. Details here: https://pmg.org.za/call-for-comment/861/

There is also the process to appoint a permanent Executive Director of IPID – the Portfolio Committee on Police has scheduled this into its programme later in the term

Public Protector Removal Proceedings +Jiba & Mrwebi matter

There is mounting pressure on Parliament to conduct an inquiry into the Public Protector’s fitness to hold office. The Sixth Parliament was barely underway when the Speaker received a request from the DA to initiate proceedings to remove the Public Protector. The Speaker officially referred the request to the Portfolio Committee on Justice. This matter was referred to the Rules Committee to formulate rules for the removal of chapter 9 institution heads. This is being prioritised.

This same Committee is also dealing with another removal process, that of Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi from office at the NPA. An agreement was reached by Speaker of the National Assembly and parties involved in the urgent interdict sought by Adv Jiba to stop President Ramaphosa from removing her and Adv Mrwebi from office. Parliament will pick this matter up again in the new term.

Turning to this week, only the NCOP chamber has scheduled a sitting and it is a big one. The President will appear to answer oral questions. He will be probed on a variety of matters such as: border control/security; Eskom crisis; Stimulus Package; Victims of Asbestosis; gender-based violence and strategic economic interventions. Read the questions here

In Committee-land, the schedule is bursting and the agenda is largely one-sided: scrutiny of annual reports. MPs will certainly be earning their pay due to the volume and length of meetings. We can expect an impressive array of Cabinet Ministers in the Committee corridor during this time.

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.


Enabling an Inclusive and Participatory Democracy

The theme for this year's International Day of Democracy, which fell on the 15th of September 2019, was Participation. Democracy is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation. It is a fundamental building block for representation, human rights and legitimacy. Democracy is a two-way street, built on a constant dialogue between citizens and their representatives.

Five years ago the People’s Assembly went live. The website was launched with the aim to promote accountability and bridge the gap between ordinary people and their elected representatives. It seeks to promote a greater public voice and enhance public participation in politics by providing information about our elected representatives and the institutions they serve, and even allow us, the citizens, to provide feedback directly to them and the committees they are in. In this blog we highlight a few features of the People’s Assembly that you can use to strengthen our democracy.

The Rep Locator

Before now it has been near impossible to easily discover who your ward councillor is. The Rep Locator changed this. All you need to do is enter your address on the search tab and your respective councillor, along with their contact details, will show up.

Representative Profiles

Profile pages bring together all the information that we have about an individual Member of Parliament. Their appearances (whether a mention in a PMG committee meeting report, a speech during a parliamentary sitting, or a question asked or answered) are displayed, together with that person’s declarations in the register of members’ interests, contact details, and previous positions held.

You can also search for MP’s according to their House or province.

MP and Minister Attendance

Currently, Parliament does not deal with leave for MPs, it is the responsibility of the parties, but it does insist on a minimum standard for the attendance of Members at plenary sittings and committee meetings. On People’s Assembly, we show the attendance of the ruling party and the opposition.

Public Participation

The strength of any democracy can be measured by how inclusive and participatory it is. The People’s Assembly public participation tool allows you to learn about current calls for comments, comment submission guidelines. Every once in a while we run polls on a specific issue that you can participate it in. The results from these polls are then sent to Parliament directly. Lastly, you can also get information on how to write a petition.

The Blog

Monitoring Parliament provides a unique and fascinating perspective of the work of our elected representatives. The People’s Assembly blog features viewpoints, information of interest, infographics and general observations that will be of interest to anyone who follows the work of Parliament.

The main purpose of our blogs is to demystify the legislature and all the information that comes from thereby making the information more accessible for people. This is especially important for us because in order for citizens to be able to participate and fully engage in a Democracy there needs to be access to information. Therefore, our blogs are our way broadening the public's knowledge and simplifying matters for them.

There is already a lot of content present on the blog - but if you are looking for a couple of posts to get you started we recommend:

Eight Things To Look Out For in Parliament for the rest of the year - it highlights some of the developments to look out for in Parliament for the remainder of the year.

6th Parliament: Turnover, Youth & Gender - this blog is accompanied by an infographic that shows the distribution of gender and age in the 6th Parliament.

A – Z of Parliamentary Parlance - this is an informative infographic to help anyone get up to speed with Parliamentary processes and some of the jargon.

The People’s Assembly website allows better scrutiny of our elected representatives. Thanks to the advent of social media, now there are many ways to do this. You can follow us on our social media pages to get the latest news and information. Facebook: @PeoplesAssemblySA; Twitter: @PeoplesAssem_SA; Instagram: @PeoplesAssemblySA.