May 21, 2019

Lost in all the fuss about the political party (read ANC) candidates lists ‑ and who did and who did not make it, and who’s in and who’s out ‑ is an obvious but not yet asked question: why would anybody want to be elected to the sixth parliament? The fifth parliament rose in March this year leaving a lot of unfinished business, much of which will be inherited by those who next take up the seats in the Chambers.

The fifth parliament has been a parliament of firsts. It was the first time bloody noses were seen in the chamber, the first time the riot police were called into the house, the first time members were manhandled and thrown out by security staff. Remember when parliament used to be boring?

The ANC in parliament is under close management by Luthuli House, whose decisions are final, writes Ben Turok, former ANC MP and now Director of the Institute for African Alternatives. In a presentation at the Gordon Institute of Business Science he warns that the ruling party intervenes in parliament’s political decisions, resulting in a bureaucratic, instead of a political, environment.

A departing offering of the fifth Parliament, unveiled on the day that the National Assembly rose for the last time, is a series of principles appended to the steps that lead to the building in which the National Assembly holds its plenary sessions.

The Traditional Courts Bill, one of the last Bills to be rushed through by the previous National Assembly, is one of the deeply controversial Bills which the sixth Parliament stands to inherit. It’s been in – and out of – the legislative pipeline since 2008. It’s dragged on, was revived by the fourth Parliament only to be tossed out by the Minister in 2011, has been renamed and amended, but like the proverbial bad penny, it has popped up again and again, according to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group. Read analysis by ANTON VAN DALSEN.

If there remains anyone out there who still buys into the elaborately crafted apartheid lie about the alleged insanity of Dimitri Tsafendas, the man who assassinated Hendrick Verwoerd, this thoroughly researched book will at last set the record straight.

Could it be that South Africa already has in place the start of what may be a workable land reform programme? In a written reply by EFF member Leigh-Ann Mathys to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Farming we learn that more than 200 small-scale farms have been established on state land in all nine provinces, and a good number of them are flourishing.

Our president has been hard at work at parliament from long before its official opening, speedily assenting to as many Bills as he can before the fifth democratic parliament closes on 29 March ahead of the election, leaving outstanding Bills to lapse – or become the problem of the incoming parliament.

Some of the 21 farms comprising the Sabi Sands area adjacent to the Kruger National Park and home to some of South Africa’s most luxurious and highly lucrative private game reserves have been facing unresolved land claims for about two decades, yet it has now emerged in the ongoing contestation that parts of the communal land claims were not grounded in historical reality and were made by individuals who did not actually constitute a community.

It’s an election year so we can look forward to a frenetic schedule and disjointed calendar as the National Legislature is first dissolved and later re-constituted after the elections. We can also expect an unpredictable timetable and two State of the Nation Addresses.

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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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