December 14, 2018

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.

If the much-vaunted Party Political Funding Bill had managed to make its way through Parliament at the pace with which the Ad Hoc Committee passed it through the National Assembly last year it is probable that voters at next year’s poll would be able to take into account matters such as which party gained and exactly how much from the VBS banking saga, before placing that crucial cross.

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.

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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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