October 23, 2018

The last we heard of proposed amendments to the Executive Members' Code of Ethics was back in 2011 when draft amendments to the Executive Members’ Ethics Act were published for public comment. This was intended to fill the gaps identified by then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. GARY PIENAAR and ASHLEY FISCHHOFF point out that right now we cannot be sure that President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet have made timely and full disclosure.

Our Parliament is based very firmly on the Westminster model, an enduring reminder of our colonial past. But as no effort has so far been taken to replace it, we might as well make use of its hundreds more years of experience than we have had and, at least sometimes, take heed of it when we should.

I talk, of course, about the UK House of Commons’ investigation into allegations of bullying in the House of Commons.

The State Security Agency is still investigating a spate of armed attacks on members of the Competition Commission which took place over a period of four months last year. Parliament was told that the release of the SSA investigation report was “imminent,” but that was some weeks ago and nothing has been heard since.

I owe an apology to the family of Lennox Garane, the senior manager of one of Parliament’s international relations units who committed suicide in his office on 14 September.

Seasoned parliamentary journalist JAN-JAN JOUBERT looks at the painfully slow progress of a critical piece of legislation, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill and its protracted journey through the parliamentary process, and warns that there are too many delays in Parliament's key mandate, which is after all to pass legislation.

Buried under the outcry over an apparent security lapse at Parliament lies the fact that a staff member used a gun to kill himself, while sitting at his desk. Whatever there is to be said about security at Parliament, that is not the cause of this tragedy.

As the ANC stumbles towards the 2019 poll, it looks like there is a very real prospect that it may lose its majority in at least one province and see it contract at national level. Other parties who may then start thinking that they are in with a chance must realise that coalition politics are not only about becoming kingmakers, but can also be used for the good of the country. Research by MIKE LAW may provide some tips for our parties to take on board as they enter this new political arena.

The Committee on Home Affairs unanimously voted to repeal a provision in the Civil Union Act which allows Home Affairs marriage officers to refuse to marry same-sex couples. The landmark Bill, tabled in January, if passed will bring an end to a clause in the Act which has long been considered discriminatory.

"Members have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts". This was the conclusion of a brief, but possibly much-needed history lesson by the DA’s Cathlene Labuschagne, who put forward a motion noting “incorrect claims about the DA” made by the Minister in the Presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She is alleged to have said that the apartheid-era National Party had merged with the DA and, further, that the DA has existed for over 300 years.

Last week South Africa watched a new form of political warfare being played out in our Metropolitan Councils (metros), and it might just prove to be an early preview of things to come. MIKE LAW, who is coordinating a project looking at experiences of coalition politics, domestic and abroad, sounds a warning.

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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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