South Africa

Parliamentary Monitoring Group: Second term ends but work continues

By Parliamentary Monitoring Group 11 June 2018

The constituency period beckons, with MPs in the National Assembly due to depart at the end of the week and return to Parliament on 14 August 2018.

First published by PMG

There is no opportunity to go through the motions as a fair amount of heavy-duty business will be done in the committee corridor before they go.

While the extended constituency period is meant for lawmakers to engage directly with the public who elected them into office, many MPs will have to come back from time to time to work on urgent legislation. Other members will take part in the public hearings that will be reviewing Section 25 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, NCOP delegates will be unaffected by this – they will still stick around until the end of the month and also return two weeks earlier than their NA counterparts.

The NCOP has scheduled a varied programme in the main chamber this week. It will sit over three days and the agenda is dotted with the usual items – questions to the Deputy President, legislative business and consideration of assorted reports. There will also be a debate to commemorate Youth Day as well as several policy debates.

The Leader of Government Business will be probed on both domestic and foreign issues. View the questions here.

Committee meetings are the main source of parliamentary action this week, where there are several hearings on important issues and detailed legislating. Here is a run-down of the highlights:

Scopa will continue its hearings on deviations and expansions. This week it will meet Sita and the Department of Defence. (Tuesday)

The Central Energy Fund will brief legislators on the turnaround plan aimed to clear governance issues affecting the performance of PetroSA and the Strategic Fuel Fund. There are allegations of corruption against the Fund and its entities. The minister has appointed consultants to reform the organisation and Parliament will get an update on this.(Tuesday)

Government has admitted that steel tariffs put in place by the US are having an adverse effect on the country’s steel sector. The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will hear from the department on steel and sugar tariffs and from SARS on the implementation of import tariffs. (Tuesday)

TheMining Charter will be the focus of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources. The minister went on a roadshow to consult with social partners in the mining industry on the review of the charter. MPs will get an update on the outcome of this process. (Tuesday)

Following claims that the healthcare system is collapsing, the Minister of Health held a media briefing last week where he rejected this claim and described the system as in distress. Last week Parliament began hearings with provinces on hospital services, with more expected to make presentations this week. Already some of the main challenges that have raised include staff shortage, underfunding, rise in medical litigation, poor labour relations, ICT challenges and infrastructure backlogs. (Tuesday)

Motivated by the recent spate in cash-in-transit heists, the Police Committee has arranged a special session with various role players to discuss how to address the issue. According to a parliamentary media statement, the 7 areas of priority that the Portfolio Committee will focus on during the hearing are: intelligence and operational readiness of the South African Police Services; current cooperation between SAPS and the private security industry; vetting procedures in the police and private security industry; state of training, vehicles and protective gear of security officers; regularity environment and the role of PSIRA (Private Security Industry Regulation Authority); cooperation between the banking sector and law enforcement agencies and technological innovations to curb incentives to engage in cash-in transit heists.

Municipal debt to Eskom has been increasing at an alarming rate and stood at approximately R13.5-billion at the end of March 2018. The top 10 municipalities contribute 70%, or R9.5-billion, of the total debt. Scopa will be meeting with 10 municipalities to discuss this issue. (Wednesday)

Conditional grants are used as a mechanism to transfer funding to provinces and municipalities for the purpose of achieving a particular government objective. Over the past few weeks, the Select Committee on Appropriations has received briefings on the Early Childhood Grant, Education Grant and Human Settlements Grant. This week, it will get an update on the performance of the Provincial Disaster Grant. (Wednesday)

The Public Protector, and her deputy, are due appear before the Justice Committee this week. She was scheduled to appear last week to explain the policy on the appointment of a special adviser to her office but requested a postponement citing a “family emergency”. At the meeting, the committee resolved to request that the Public Protector and the Deputy Public Protector appear this week. (Wednesday)

Beyond this, there will be a fair amount of legislative lifting with MPs set to process several Bills: Copyright Amendment Bill; Political Party Funding Bill; Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Bill; Foreign Service Bill; NEMLA Bill; Liquor Products Amendment Bill and National Health Laboratory Services Bill.

During the constituency period, MPs have a duty to: be available to the public, help solve problems and report back to their constituents on what is happening in Parliament. For more information about constituency offices, click hereDM

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

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