March 24, 2018

News nuggets from Parliament

A new column in Notes from the House tells you in brief about what goes on in Parliament behind the scenes. No fake news will be published – although you may wonder if some of this really did happen.

Visitors and staff at Parliament are welcome to send news nuggets to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SAA delays Annual Report again

Yet another request was made to postpone the tabling of the Annual Report of South African Airways (SAA) for the 2016-17 financial year, months past the final deadline. A letter was sent by former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to Speaker Baleka Mbete. It read much like the previous letters. The reason this time? “Technical accounting matters which were raised by Auditor-General.” That also sounds a lot like the same reasons for the last delay. The letter to Speaker asked for a postponement until 30 April 2018, but it’s not going to be of much help to SAA because it has missed the February deadline for submission of its Annual Report to its own AGM. When will this abortive effort be grounded?

Basic Education has got a lot to learn

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) condemned the under achievement by the Department of Basic Education, this time in misspending its budget for school infrastructure. The department spent 93% of its budget for the 2016/17 financial year, but only managed to implement less than 50% of its targets. Scopa put this down to the department getting away with not following proper supply chain regulations and legislation and said the Department had failed to answer questions on why it was not meeting its targets. Must try harder.

Parliament worried about water and sanitation department

Scopa has joined the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation in calling for a full parliamentary inquiry into the Department of Water and Sanitation. This comes after the Committee heard the Department’s report on irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This was Scopa’s third attempt to get straight answers from the Department, but gave up and cut the hearing short when it became clear that the department’s officials have no answers to the questions posed by Committee members.

This is scary given that SA has declared a national emergency in three provinces because of drought. This Department has a long history of instability and financial mismanagement, and Scopa has resolved to open a criminal case against the Department over a R2.9bn overdraft with the Reserve Bank. It wants National Treasury to step in. Former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane left a department that has completely collapsed, said Scopa. The last thing SA needs now is a similar total breakdown in Communications.

Budget Office warns of results of VAT increase

Parliament’s own Budget Office has noted that the VAT increase would have a greater negative impact on inequality, increase pressure in wage negotiations and cited the Davis Tax Commission which believes increases in VAT was more inflationary in the short term than hikes in personal income tax and corporate income tax. It also said VAT hikes also lead to slow growth and may increase unemployment, two things SA cannot afford. The Standing Committees on Finance and Appropriations, and the Select Committees on Finance and Appropriations met with the Financial and Fiscal Commission and the Parliamentary Budget Office to discuss the 2018 Budget.

Thanks to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group for this news nugget.

 House pays tribute to veterans

 The Chief Whip of the Majority Party put forward a resolution in the National Assembly in a motion of condolence for struggle veteran, MK fighter, Robben Island prisoner and UDF leader Laloo Chiba, who passed away on Friday, 8 December 2017 at the age of 87. He was remembered as “a selfless freedom fighter who dedicated his life to the liberation and service of the people of South Africa”. Another draft resolution was lodged noting with sadness the death of ANC MP, Beatrice Thembekile Ngcobo, on Sunday, 17 February 2018 at the age of 74, after undergoing an operation earlier in February.

Notes in the House marks the passing of these struggle veterans with respect and regret.

Additional Info

  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Thursday, 01 March 2018 22:52

About Us

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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