November 21, 2019

CARILEE OSBORNE, the Senior Researcher at the Institute for African Alternatives (IFFA) and Assistant Editor of its flagship journal, New Agenda, warns that austerity measures cannot deliver a country from an economic slump, especially in South Africa where there is severe unemployment, that results in poverty and inequality. The only way to effectively address inequality is through large-scale government interventions, preferably those that generate jobs.

The medium-term budget statement by Minister Tito Mboweni seems to have brought little clarity on what government is going to do to fix our economy. True, he rang the alarm bells about the national debt but his solutions in terms of spending cuts does not convince. Especially as he does so in the name of austerity; an approach that has been severely criticised internationally even by members of the IMF.

The long-overdue vote on the outcome of the protracted disciplinary hearing of suspended Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, was in the end uneventful. However, what was unusual about this plenary session was the unanimous cross-party agreement in both Houses. All parties voted in favour of the motion that Mgidlana be summarily dismissed on the grounds of serious misconduct.

Mmusi Maimane's resignation highlights one of the core problems of democratic South Africa ‑ the assumption that the only way to do anything is the way white men did it in the past. STEVEN FRIEDMAN, from the University of Johannesburg, explains the “Imposter Syndrome”.

The politicians who run South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), have probably never heard of “imposter syndrome”. If they had, they might have a better grasp of the problems which confront their party – and its first black leader might not have been forced to resign.

The new parliamentary term opened last week after a recess, the annual two-week mid-year recess. This may create the impression that much of elected representatives’ time is spent in recess. However, just because MPs are not always present in parliament does not mean they are not hard at work. They could be engaged in oversight visits, public hearings, study tours or planning sessions. As the final term of the year gets underway, this is a good time to look back on what was achieved during the second term of the post-election parliament, and consider what lies ahead in the third.

Mr G Michalakis (DA) asked the Minister of State Security whether her department has instituted any forensic and/or other investigations into the breaches of financial and other controls regarding the Principal Agent Network (PAN) project and Special Operations. He also wanted to know if this had resulted in any prosecutions. The Minister assured Mr Michalakis that the State Security Agency (SSA) is onto it and indeed has been since June 2018. However, regrettably, SSA’s chances of success are hampered by corrupt networks operational within the SSA.

PROFESSOR BALTHAZAR (not his real name), in a Daily Maverick article, refers to comments by the chief justice that the work of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cannot be measured by conviction rates. True, but less learned citizens are not looking that far ahead. As the Zondo Commission daily reveals what look like indisputable cases of serious corruption, they want to see at least a start made in a prosecution process. Before there can be convictions, charges have to be laid.

Have we at last heard the end of the protracted disciplinary process against suspended Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana after the Speaker accepted recommendations by the disciplinary committee that he be summarily dismissed after being found guilty of serious misconduct? Possibly, but also possibly not.

The Executive Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), LAWSON NAIDOO, introduces the term ‘lawfare’, which was coined to describe the political strategy that emerged when diverse civil society groups joined forces with the courts, in particular the Constitutional Court, in the fight against state capture and corruption.

In a written question to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development the EFF wanted to know the names of the ten largest commercial land owners in each province. It turns out the answer is not White Monopoly Capital.

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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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