Parliamentary Monitoring Group: This Week: An eclectic week of action beckons
A combination of a heavy legislative load, the President's appearance, two conferences, debates and some important meetings, should mean a fair amount of activity.
This article first appeared on the PMG website here The President's oral question session on Wednesday is the high point. The President is required to answer questions of national or international importance once per term. The questions are sifted and published beforehand to ensure only questions satisfying the set criteria are put to the President. Four supplementary questions, arising from the reply to a question, are allowed. This engagement is one way in which Parliament holds the President accountable. It is also an opportunity for legislators to interact directly with the President. President Cyril Ramaphosa will be probed on a variety of issues this week. Read the questions here. A debate to commemorate National Women's Day is a standing item on the agenda and is held every year, usually around the same time as the holiday. This tradition will continue when MPs debate the emancipation and empowerment of women under the title Women united in moving South Africa forward. Continuing with this theme, Parliament has organised a women's charter review conference. The purpose is to assess progress made by government in the implementation of the imperatives set out in the 1954 Women's Charter and the 1994 Women's Charter for Effective Equality. Beyond this, the NA plenary programme is dotted with the usual items like Members’ Statements, Motions Without Notice, Notices of Motion, passing of assorted Bills, Committee Reports and international instruments. Elsewhere, the NCOP chamber – which will sit over two days – has arranged a varied agenda: plenary highlights include legislative business, motions, the processing of assorted Committee Reports and a debate on addressing governance challenges in State-owned Enterprises. In the past few months, the Minister of Public Enterprise has been on a drive to turn things around and new boards were appointed to four SoEs with more changes expected other SoEs. The South African Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) is hosting the third African Network of Parliamentary Budget Offices (AN-PBO) Conference over two days. The conference will take place in the parliamentary precinct and will see the PBO welcoming delegates from across Africa as well as from other institutions tasked with supporting parliamentarians in the oversight of public finances. View the full programme here. Meanwhile, there’s lots of action in committee-land, with a few Cabinet Ministers set to make appearances. Here is a run-down of highlights: South Africa’s policy of allowing the hunting of captive-bred lions has been severely criticised and has threatened the country's reputation as an international wildlife and conservation destination. In order to address this, the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs has arranged a two-day colloquium titledCaptive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country to give stakeholders an opportunity to discuss the issue. (Tuesday and Wednesday) The public broadcaster has recently attracted negative headlines for a variety of issues: it is alleged that it has a liquidity crisis, can't pay independent producers and is in need of another bailout. It also had to reverse a decision not to broadcast PSL games on radio following public pressure. All of this and other related issues will be the on the agenda when the Portfolio Committee on Communications meets with the Minister and the SABC. The committee will also shortlist candidates to be interviewed for vacancies on the SABC Board and MDDA Board. (Tuesday) A ministerial task team recommended that history should be a compulsory subject (replacing life orientation) in schools from 2023. The proposal has received mixed reaction and will be the focus of the meeting between lawmakers and the Department of Basic Education. The other item is the Department’s Draft Rural Education Policy. (Tuesday) Last week, the Portfolio Committee on Energy was supposed to receive a briefing from the Minister and the Department of Energy on the fuel price. The meeting was scheduled because of the public debate about the high fuel price and the impact it not only has on businesses but households too. The meeting was meant to serve as a platform to inform the Committee and the South African public at large about the cause of the ever-increasing fuel prices and the strategies in place to help bring the fuel prices down. The meeting had to be cancelled and rescheduled due to the non-attendance of the minister and the department officials. (Tuesday) The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs will begin the second phase of the IEC Commissioner appointment process. There are three vacancies that need to be filled. Last month, a panel released the names of the eight candidates that were forwarded to Parliament for further consideration and recommendation to the President. (Tuesday) SAPS will brief MPs on several important issues: High Profile Cases; Public Violence and Restructuring Plans/Senior appointments. (Wednesday) SCOPA will be meeting with Eskom to discuss deviations and expansions at the public utility for the third and fourth quarter. National Treasury had previously expressed concern about the regular use of deviations and expansions and that this was becoming a norm. The committee began meeting with the affected departments and entities to get clarity and satisfaction that this practice did not represent an abuse of resources. It should only be used on rare occasions (Wednesday) The DA Chief Whip, J Steenhuisen, requested that Parliament remove the Public Protector from Office on the grounds of incompetence. As part of his reasoning, he cited the judgement by Judge Murphy who found that the Public Protector grossly overreached her powers when she recommended in her report that the Constitution be amended to alter the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank and that she sought to dictate to Parliament, to whom she is accountable, how and when legislation should be amended. In his view, her actions compromised the independence of Parliament and the effectiveness of parliamentary procedures. Steenhuisen presented his request to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and was asked to submit a report that was referred to the Public Protector for her comments. The committee will deal with the responses by the Public Protector this week. (Wednesday) The Public Service Commission will brief legislators on the factors impeding government departments from achieving set targets of 2% for persons with disability and 50% for Women in Senior Management Services level. (Wednesday) ThePortfolio Committee on Social Development will hear from the National Development Agency and the Department of Social Development on the capacitation of Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) and compliance to the NPO Act. The Joint Constitutional Review 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 is expected to report back to Parliament by 11 September. This week, it will give an update on the progress made and finalise selection of participants for oral representation on the proposed review of Section 25 of the Constitution. (Wednesday) In between, there will be a lot of detailed legislating on the following bills: Customary Initiation Bill; Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill; Traditional Courts Bill; Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill; Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill; Taxation Laws Amendment Bill; Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill; National Credit Amendment Bill; Ikamva National e-Skills Institute Bill; Copyright Amendment Bill; Small Enterprises Ombud Service Bill (a Private Member’s Bill); Films and Publication Bill; and amendments to the Parliament and Provincial Medical Aid Scheme Act.DM 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