August 21, 2018

The fifth democratic Parliament, which began in 2014 and will end with next year’s election, has so far 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.

The recently released World Bank Group Diagnostic Report on South Africa, “An Incomplete Transition: Overcoming the Legacy of Exclusion in South Africa,” has in many ways shifted the ground on which the ruling party has for decades contested the so-called Washington Consensus. The big surprise was that the Diagnostic Report, released in May, was written in language that sounded very much like the National Development Plan (NDP).

After a long silence, the former deputy head of the Parliamentary Protection Services (PPS), who was placed on precautionary suspension back in 2015, has resurfaced demanding the opportunity to clear his name.

As the debate on land restitution gains momentum, with unseemly haste displayed by the ruling party which couldn't even wait for the parliamentary process to run its course, now is a good time to stop and look back. The decade-long MalaMala land deal provides a salutary lesson on the need to tread with great caution. Before the country-wide consultation process got underway Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform discussed this example of how land redistribution can go very wrong, even if it is agreed in principle that this is what it will take for transformation ti become a reality.

Occasionally hidden in the many long pages of Parliament’s Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATCs), a precious nugget of information may be found. For example, here is something for those who are wondering when the state capture investigation to get underway. It turns out that a small start has already been made.

Those who value transparency and accountability in political party funding, and who welcomed the National Assembly’s passing of the contentious Political Party Funding Bill in March after a delay of more than a decade, may be in for a disappointment. The Bill has been sitting in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) since it was sent for concurrence in March, and records show that the NCOP has held only one hearing since then.

South Africa’s determined ongoing efforts to cut its ties with the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC) in the Hague re-surfaced at the tail end of a meeting of the Committee of Justice and Correctional Services in parliament.

Representatives from the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) expressed anger and “disgust” at the way the Office of the Institute Supporting Democracy (OISD) has gone ahead with the process of amalgamating Chapter 9 Institutions, without considering the special role that the gender commission plays in a society fraught with violence against women and girls and particularly harsh patriarchal discrimination.

Since 1979 about 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the People’s Republic of China, more recently at a rate of more 130 million people every year since 2013.

A number of concessions have been introduced to the controversial hate speech Bill to placate those who regard it as a threat to democracy and civil rights.

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Notes from the House is an independent weekly email newsletter that tracks and monitors Parliament in its role of holding government to account and passing legislation to improve people’s lives. It aims to bring you the news from Parliament that you don’t get elsewhere. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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