October 23, 2018

A polite disagreement arose only minutes after the end of Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s presentation on South Africa’s national and provincial audit outcomes for the 2017/18 financial year. It followed some moments of disbelieving silence by members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and the Standing Committee on Appropriations who attended the joint meeting where the AG’s findings on the most recent state audit of government departments and entities were revealed.

Seven in 10 government departments and entities flout the law and regulations, according to the Auditor-General. MARIANNE MERTEN writes in the Daily Maverick what really happens when public finances are placed under scrutiny ahead of the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement as Parliament ploughs through annual reports detailing performance and financials of the 2017/18 year.

The fourth term of Parliament is traditionally taken up with the annual task of poring over the Annual Reports of Departments and the public entities linked to them. This is when Parliamentary Committees really exercise oversight of the executive.

Only seven higher education institutions could report there had been no incidents of rape on their campuses in 2017. In response to a question from Nontando Nolutshungu from the EFF the Minister of Higher Education and Training replied that the Department does not usually collect such information as a matter of routine.

Parliament’s questions to the Minister of Basic Education reveal that the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure launched in 2013 to improve educational infrastructure will have to be deferred by another five to ten years beyond 2030.

Between 2016 and March 2018, not a single police station visited by the SAPS’ Civilian Secretariat has fully complied with the Domestic Violence Act. In terms of this Act, the SAPS must report biannually to Parliament on complaints received against police officers who don’t properly implement the Act and the steps taken against them, writes ALICESTINE OCTOBER.

Delays and deliberations by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) over instructions issued by the parliamentary Committee raises questions about Parliament’s ability to conduct oversight of the executive when it comes to managing immigration.

Despite high levels of spending of the government’s Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG), dangerous pit latrines, crumbling mud classrooms and shortages of desks, chairs and other resources remain commonplace throughout much of the education sector. This prompted the parliamentary Appropriations Committee to ask if the education sector should be left with the task of struggling to improve its infrastructure, or whether this should actually be the responsibility of the Department of Public Works.

South Africa’s tertiary education institutions could face turmoil in 2019 that would make the Fees Must Fall disruptions of 2015/6 pale in comparison as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) struggles to play catch-up with burgeoning funding applications. The Minster of Education, Naledi Pandor, has already taken far-reaching steps to try to avoid an explosive crisis at campuses countrywide in the next academic year.

The fifth democratic Parliament, which began in 2014 and will end with next year’s election, has made very little progress so far in producing legislation in pursuit of Parliament’s mandate to improve the quality of life of South African citizens. Some parliamentary committees, many of which would be considered central to the National Development Plan, have processed no legislation at all during the fifth democratic Parliament.

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