October 19, 2019

Briefs that show it all: Parliamentary sessions just ‘hot air’

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.

But they decided South Africa’s plenary debates were really not worth the trouble. The study found that debates in the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces are hardly worth tracking, describing them as "theatre" and "a few hours of hot air". It reports that Hansard is barely used in South Africa, simply because no-one cares what "nonsense" is spoken during plenary sessions.

The research participants in this study working in South Africa noted that Committee sessions are where the real decisions are made, and information concerning these was far more important that any record of plenary discussion. Here is where the Parliamentary Monitoring Group has for years been providing a critical public service by tracking Committee meetings. It’s the Committees in South Africa where public participation takes place and citizens and interest groups are able to provide oral and written evidence. Read the article at https://research.mysociety.org/publications/parliament-and-people

Investigations underway into municipalities over VBS

What will happen to those in municipalities that broke the law by depositing funds with VBS Mutual Bank? So far, we know of three people who have been subjected to a disciplinary procedure. Gauteng municipality requested the provincial Treasury to initiate an independent external investigation on the matter. The investigation, which started in May, is due to conclude before the end of the year. The offending municipalities in Gauteng are the West Rand District and Merafong City LM.

Eight municipalities in Limpopo attended introductory meetings on 28 August 2018 and forensic investigations were underway, in accordance with section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act. They have not yet been finalised. Investigations into affected municipalities in the North West province started in July 2018 and the investigation report was finalised on the 18th of October 2018. Three individuals face disciplinary procedures in Madibeng LM and a criminal case was opened at Brits SAPS. The affected provincial departments instituted forensic investigations in their respective municipalities, in accordance with section 106 of Municipal Systems Act, and it appears in most cases the investigations are still underway.

State youth unemployment scheme for all, but only black people need apply

Deidre Carter from Cope asked the Minister of Trade and Industry if white unemployed youth are excluded from the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme. It took a while for him to get there, but it appears the answer regarding YES is yes.

Minister Rob Davies explained that “youth unemployment is one of the largest challenges the world faces, with the challenge particularly high in South Africa. Young workers in South Africa face very low prospects of finding employment. Many job seekers are excluded from these social networks as a result of being in a non-working household, spatially isolated, or racial and gender issues.

“The Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative aims to improve the grim employment outlook for young work seekers, by offering a first chance of quality work experience for young work seekers. The YES initiative was created for all unemployed youth of the country. However, for the purpose of B-BBEE recognition will only be awarded to Entities that employ Eligible Employees which are between the ages of 18 and 35 and meet the definition of “Black People” as defined in the B-BBEE Act 53 of 2003 as amended by Act 46 of 2013.

 Council on Higher Education fails to find educated staff

 The Council on Higher Education (CHE) have been unable to implement projects or carry out most of the activities required for at least last five years, as reflected in their annual performance plans (APPs). In some cases, projects or activities were started but not completed within the specified time, which means the CHE has not been able to meet all of its annual performance targets over the last five financial years.

For example, it has held no CHE-funded conferences during that time, its quality assurance audits of higher education institutions came to a halt in 2012 and as for its goal to promote the access of students to higher education institutions, in a report it explained, “The CHE has never had a programme solely and directly focused on this function.” It appears most of its functions have been “suspended since there was no capacity to run it and no budget allocated”.

The problems are “budget constraints” as well as “difficulty in maintaining the intellectual and research capacity of the CHE; a lower level of engagement with institutions due to capacity constraints; and staffing challenges including the inability to upgrade posts appropriately and attract senior staff with required experience in some areas.”

Where do we go to after we die?

A total of 145 mortuary fridges at hospitals throughout the country are currently “dysfunctional” and some have not been working for a year. In the Eastern Cape’s Katleho/Winburg Complex, two mortuary fridges at Katleho have not been working for two years and in the Odi hospital in Tshwane the mortuary fridge has not been functioning for 10 years. Perhaps that one can be thrown out.

It is often asked what happens to us after we die, but we shouldn’t have to wander if there will be a place for our dead bodies.

Does the Dept of Public Works work?

Of the 90,000 buildings reportedly under the custodianship of the government’s Department of Public Works, 1,287 properties, “including undeveloped land parcels”, are currently illegally occupied and another 400 buildings are vacant or “the occupation status is still to be confirmed”. That leaves the Department of Public Works with 9,517 buildings that it uses for itself, 78,173 buildings leased to government departments and their associated entities, 13 properties that are leased to provinces or provincial departments or entities, 107 properties that are leased to municipalities or municipal entities and 122 buildings that are leased to private entities and individuals.

Except that the department has discovered that more than 1,000 of its leases are incorrect or incomplete and it is currently reviewing all leased out contracts and signing new lease agreement for all properties under its custodianship.

Conditional grants are for spending

Sonja Boshoff of the DA asked the Minister of Basic Education about the Conditional Grant for Learners with Disabilities and how much is being accomplished in each province through this government grant.

The good news comes from the Western Cape, which received its entire allocation of R11,874 and spent all of it. The Minister didn’t say how much that actually assisted learners with disabilities, but it sounds encouraging.

If the success of services is reflected in the amount spent, Gauteng, North West and Mpumulamga are doing well. But kids with disabilities in the Eastern Cape get a grant of R3,537 and only about 20% of that is actually spent. Can one even buy a wheelchair for the R2,549 spent in the E Cape?

The main problem, according to all provinces except WC, is: “Scarcity of therapists (Outreach Teams members) and the contractual nature of their appointments contributed to a delay in their appointments. This delay and slow procurement processes contributed to under-expenditure.”

2017/18 LSPID EXPENDITURE AS AT 31 MARCH 2018

PEDs

ALLOCATION

 

R’000

TOTAL TRANSFERRED

R’000

ACTUAL EXPENDITURE

R’000

BALANCE

 

R’000

% SPENT PER TOTAL

EC

3 537

2 549

756

2 781

21.4

FS

11 368

8 439

2 957

8 411

26.0

GP

12 632

12 632

11 688

945

92.5

KZN

5 558

5 558

2 452

3 106

44.1

LP

9 853

8 122

3 533

6 320

35.9

MP

12 883

12 883

11 370

1 513

88.3

NC

2 021

1 692

1 557

464

77.0

NW

2 274

2 274

2 221

53

97.7

WC

11 874

11 874

11 874

-

100.0

TOTAL

72 000

66 023

48 407

23 593

67.2

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 10 December 2018 19:32

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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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