Parliamentary Monitoring Group

The Week Ahead: Question time and new laws on the agenda

By Parliamentary Monitoring Group 18 November 2019

Archive Photo: Deputy President David Mabuza answers questions during in Parliament on 20 March 2018. Photo by Leila Dougan.

Legislators in the National Assembly will probe the Deputy President and selected Ministers in the Social Services Cluster during their scheduled oral reply question sessions.

Question Time is one of the ways Parliament scrutinises the work of government and holds it accountable. 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.

Deputy President David Mabuza will be quizzed on his monitoring of public participation in public hearings, plans taken to address the marginalisation of African skills in restructuring state-owned enterprises, Chinese investment, strategies of the SA National AIDS Council, trade relations with the US and the communal land tenure system. Read the questions here.

Ministers will be asked about a range of topics including losses incurred by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, the comprehensive sexuality education programme, the foster care grant system, rape kits at police stations, steps to address gaps in mental health services and debt owed by municipalities to the water boards. Read the questions here.

Beyond this, the National Assembly will consider two Bills: Foreign Service Bill and Division of Revenue Amendment BillThe latter allocates resources to the three spheres of government and is a critical step in the budget process before national government, the nine provinces and 257 municipalities can determine their own budgets. The former Bill was first introduced in 2015 and lapsed when the Fifth Parliament dissolved. The Bill was revived last month and aims to have a single administration and management procedure for South Africa’s missions abroad.

Also dotting the plenary agenda are regular items like assorted committee reports (including leftover Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports), Members’ Statements, Motions Without Notice and Notices of Motion.

There are no scheduled National Council of Provinces (NCOP) sittings this week.

Away from Plein Street, the parliamentary portfolio committee on health will embark on the fourth leg of public hearings on the National Health Insurance Bill in KwaZulu-Natal. This will take place over four days and follows hearings in the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. View venues and times here.

In addition, Parliament will start provincial review sessions of the 1994 Women’s Charter in Gugulethu, under the theme “25 Year Review of the Women’s Charter for Effective Equality”.

Several headline-grabbing meetings are scheduled in the committee corridor. Here is a run-down of the highlights:

  • Parliamentary committees can conduct inquiries into matters within their remits – important tools at their disposal. These are rare events nonetheless. The portfolio committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology will hold an inquiry into allegations of corruption, maladministration, nepotism and abuse of authority at the Tshwane University of Technology. (Tuesday)

  • In its legacy report, the portfolio committee on Home Affairs said it needed to follow up on implementation of the High-Level Panel on key legislation to address outstanding issues amending the Electoral Act to provide for an electoral system that makes MPs accountable to defined constituencies on proportional representation. The committee will hear from the department and the Independent Electoral Commission in this regard. Further, the committee will receive an update from the department on the Fireblade aviation agreement and EOH contract. The Fireblade saga saw former minister Malusi Gigaba face a North Gauteng High Court ruling that he lied under oath when he said he did not approve the operation of a privately-owned air traffic terminal owned by the Oppenheimer family. The Public Protector also released a report on the matter, with its remedial action directing President Ramaphosa to discipline Gigaba for perjuring himself and violating the Constitution as a member of the executive. (Tuesday)

  • In September, the President announced an emergency action plan to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence in the country. Parliament has held debates on the topic and questioned the executive for further details on the plan. In keeping with this renewed focus, a joint meeting, comprising the committees on women, youth and persons with disabilities, health, social development, justice, police and the multi-party women’s caucus, has been organised to receive a briefing from the interim steering committee on gender-based violence on progress made and related matters. (Tuesday)

  • The select committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements is due to hear about the department’s plan to deal with the water crisis in municipalities. (Tuesday)

  • SARS will brief lawmakers on the illicit tobacco trade. (Tuesday)

  • MPs will recommend a candidate to serve as a commissioner for the Public Service Commission. (Tuesday)

  • The portfolio committee on Public Service and Administration has arranged a wide-ranging meeting, with topics including: progress made with regard to the establishment of the Office of Standards and Compliance in the public service; monitoring the Financial Disclosure Framework in the public service and implementation of the Revised Determination on Other Remunerative Work to prohibit public servants from doing business with the state. (Wednesday)

  • The sub-committee on review of the National Council of Provinces rules has arranged a meeting. (Wednesday)

  • The Department of Social Development’s progress report in meeting the North Gauteng High Court deadline on a backlog in foster care orders will be in the spotlight again. This will be the committee’s fourth engagement with the department on the issue since September. (Wednesday)

  • The Department of Defence will brief MPs on cyber warfare capability and development. (Wednesday)

  • In between, MPs will be discussing and considering several pieces of legislation. These include: Division of Revenue Amendment Bill; Civil Aviation Amendment Bill; Adjustments Appropriation Bill; Border Management Authority Bill; Child Justice Amendment Bill; Independent Police Investigative Directorate Amendment Bill; Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill; 2019 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB); 2019 Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill (TALAB); 2019 Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill (Rates Bill); Hydrographic Bill; subordinate legislation relating to Domestic Trade in Rhinoceros Horns; White Paper on Public Works Bill and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.

View the full schedule here. DM

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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