August 20, 2019

Big changes in electoral law are on the cards after the allegations around double-voting were made in the general election in May this year. JAN-JAN JOUBERT looks back on the drama that played out largely behind the scenes at the election results centre in Pretoria in the days immediately following the May 8 election.

The 2019 Appropriations Act, which appears to be the only act passed by the sixth parliament during its first term, includes a few nasty surprises. For one thing, even though it has not yet been through parliament and therefore does not actually exist, the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund has been allocated R2.112 billion, which is almost as much as national spending on communicable and non-communicable diseases, such as TB and HIV.

Recess has come to an end and parliamentarians return for the second term this week, which is a good time to release a report on the performance for the first term of the sixth democratic parliament. Overall comment: could try harder, easily distracted and not focused on the work that needs to be done.

Looking back on recent student unrest the Vice Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, Adam Habib, says the moment the #Feesmustfall movement went wrong was when political parties moved in thinking that they could use the momentum for their own ends. The Deputy Editor of New Agenda, MICHAEL NASSEN SMITH, interviewed him.

The grip of money on South African politics may be so tight that it could be impossible to govern – or seek to govern – unless you are beholden to private money. STEVEN FRIEDMAN asks if the new law can change that?

The parliamentary processes around what is euphemistically called “expropriation without compensation” of land, which expired in the fifth parliament has now been revived in the sixth. PAUL HOFFMAN from Accountability Now thinks it is necessary and timely to remind the new members of their oath of office and their duty to uphold the rule of law.

It took 11 years to see through the protracted process of revising the ministerial handbook, which among other things stipulates how much ministers and deputy ministers can spend on the perks of their trade. But inflation and recession during that time already makes these new rules outdated and new expense limits somewhat unlikely, writes JAN-JAN JOUBERT. This does not read like a guide for cabinet belt-tightening.

The Presidency’s moves can be blocked by secretary-general Ace Magashule, who is in charge of ANC structures, writes BEN TUROK. He argues President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to fight corruption, but there are pockets of resistance within the ANC.

To witness the best functioning committee in Parliament you have to get up really early every Thursday morning, even in the bleak Cape midwinter, and make your way to room E249 on the second floor of the parliamentary complex’s National Assembly building, writes JAN-JAN JOUBERT.

Throughout the world, people who follow politics are fixating on leaders. South Africa follows the trend and so President Cyril Ramaphosa has become an obsession, writes STEVEN FRIEDMAN from the University of Johannesburg. Ramaphosa, of course, replaced Jacob Zuma, who was associated with patronage politics and “state capture”, handing over public power to (wealthy) private people.

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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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