October 19, 2019

Dear Fellow South African,

In everything that we do to grow our economy, our main aim must be to improve the lives of South Africans. We want to build an inclusive economy that has a real impact on the quality of life of poor and working-class people.

The new parliamentary term opened last week after a recess, the annual two-week mid-year recess. This may create the impression that much of elected representatives’ time is spent in recess. However, just because MPs are not always present in parliament does not mean they are not hard at work. They could be engaged in oversight visits, public hearings, study tours or planning sessions. As the final term of the year gets underway, this is a good time to look back on what was achieved during the second term of the post-election parliament, and consider what lies ahead in the third.

Mr G Michalakis (DA) asked the Minister of State Security whether her department has instituted any forensic and/or other investigations into the breaches of financial and other controls regarding the Principal Agent Network (PAN) project and Special Operations. He also wanted to know if this had resulted in any prosecutions. The Minister assured Mr Michalakis that the State Security Agency (SSA) is onto it and indeed has been since June 2018. However, regrettably, SSA’s chances of success are hampered by corrupt networks operational within the SSA.

PROFESSOR BALTHAZAR (not his real name), in a Daily Maverick article, refers to comments by the chief justice that the work of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cannot be measured by conviction rates. True, but less learned citizens are not looking that far ahead. As the Zondo Commission daily reveals what look like indisputable cases of serious corruption, they want to see at least a start made in a prosecution process. Before there can be convictions, charges have to be laid.

Have we at last heard the end of the protracted disciplinary process against suspended Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana after the Speaker accepted recommendations by the disciplinary committee that he be summarily dismissed after being found guilty of serious misconduct? Possibly, but also possibly not.

The Executive Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), LAWSON NAIDOO, introduces the term ‘lawfare’, which was coined to describe the political strategy that emerged when diverse civil society groups joined forces with the courts, in particular the Constitutional Court, in the fight against state capture and corruption.

In a written question to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development the EFF wanted to know the names of the ten largest commercial land owners in each province. It turns out the answer is not White Monopoly Capital.

Most political victories are won in courts these days. Most recently the Pretoria High Court set aside the findings of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (or the ‘arms deal’). JUDITH FEBRUARY argues that the application, brought by the Right to Know campaign and Corruption Watch, represents a victory in the decades-long campaign to ensure that some form of accountability follows the corruption-riddled deal.

The South African parliament is fast becoming a parliament functioning in the breach rather than in the main, writes JAN-JAN JOUBERT. Over the 35 weeks of the first eight months of this year, parliament was in session for only 13 weeks, and dysfunctional or in recess for fully 22 weeks.

Performance in South Africa’s two tier health system – the public and the private – has been worsening for some time, writes ALEX VAN DEN HEEVER. Politicians have attempted to attribute the decline in the public sector to a myriad of ills, none of their making. These include migrants; insufficient funds; insufficient staff; medical schemes; lawyers suing them for medical negligence; the existence of two tiers and even the middle class.

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About Us

Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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