July 16, 2019

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.

You are going to have to exercise some patience if you are waiting to see the sixth parliament get on with it. The official opening is the State of the Nation Address, which falls on 20 June, and that will be the first joint sitting of the new MPs. After that the plenaries begin with debates on SONA in both Houses. But the real work of parliament, as we know, happens in the committees, which only get going on 2 July.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is establishing a unit in the presidency which he hopes will improve policy development and coordination. This is an important initiative designed to help him address the huge challenges facing his incoming government, writes ALAN HIRSCH.

South Africa’s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) is in complete disarray according to SEÁN MFUNDZA MULLER who once worked there. In the 10 years since it was established by law, and the five years it has been in operation, the Office has failed to adhere to key principles of institutional and political independence, technical credibility and transparency. For these and other reasons it has failed to give parliamentarians, and the public, a credible alternative analysis of South Africa’s public finances.

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.

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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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