March 20, 2019

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.

It was quite a rush to the finish line and even if Parliament didn’t quite make it, it was something of an eye opener to see what the Houses can do when they try.

Academic research on the best digital tools for monitoring southern African parliaments shows Uganda tweets live from parliamentary session, while Kenya has Mzalendo, a top website similar to the UK’s TheyWorkForYou.com. The study argues that digital tools such as these must be developed to ensure that citizens are able to follow the debates taking place in their respective official parliamentary chambers.

Has the EFF been had?

December 08, 2018

Land expropriation without compensation, increasingly colloquially known as EWC, may be the ANC’s winning card in its 2019 electioneering pack, but in time could prove to be the joker in the deck. Passed by Parliament just days before the House rose for the December recess, with 209 MPs voting in favour of a change to the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation, against only 91 nays, it was billed as a victory for the ANC and for EWC as a whole.

What better way to derail an anti-corruption campaign than to beat it at its own game? You might damage or derail democracy in the process, but that is the country’s problem, not yours, writes STEVEN FRIEDMAN in a recent article in The Conversation.

Letter to the editor

November 07, 2018

Thank you for your October edition of Notes from the House. I did not personally know Lennox Garane but I certainly extend my sympathy and condolences to his family.

I have a small understanding of the problem that he was experiencing as I talk almost daily to members of the Parliamentary staff who feel they’ve been bullied and threatened by their seniors and managers. Many of the staff have come to know that I am a practicing labour lawyer and the word seems to have been spread that I am happy to give advice and to share some experiences with those who have been ill treated.

MARTINA DELLA TOGNA, former multimedia manager at Parliament, attended the most recent meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on the Oversight of the Financial Management of Parliament. She was joined by the sons of Lennox Garane, the parliamentary manager who recently committed suicide in his office. They were hoping to hear some answers from the Committee.

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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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