May 22, 2018

A meeting of Parliament’s Health Portfolio Committee held at the end of March to discuss the proposed Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill ended rather dramatically amid much anger and mud-slinging, none of which had anything directly to do with the highly charged issue of abortion.

Discussions on the Traditional Courts Bill have been going around in the same circle for ten years, and what the law-makers are skirting, it would seem, is the Constitution itself; they cannot tramp over it, nor can they walk away from it.

The long-running Traditional Courts Bill regularly returns to Parliament for debate. Here is a transcript of the presentation by Mr K Ahirudhra, Head: Parliamentary and International Policy, Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), who addressed the Women in the Presidency Committee.

One of Parliament’s chief objectives is oversight of the executive, and a tool it uses to achieve this is Question Time. Questions for oral or written reply can be put to the President, the Deputy President and Ministers, and gives Members of Parliament the opportunity to monitor the government’s service delivery. However, much of the time the answers leave South Africans with more questions and few answers. Here is a small sample.

The heady combination of Ramaphoria and Zumaphobia appears to have re-energised Parliament, especially in the Committee rooms where the parliamentary duty of oversight is mostly carried out.

The 2018 Fiscal Framework and Revenue Proposals along with the Report of the Standing Committee on Finance was adopted in Parliament by a hefty 191 ayes to 81 nays, confirming yet again how the mood in Parliament so often fails to reflect the feelings of those outside the precinct where the citizens live.

The danger the governing party poses to democracy is that it continues to blur the lines between the state and the party. This became particularly evident when it came to changing the president.

The status of Parliament’s inquiry into state capture now appears uncertain, after it finally got off the ground in August 2017 after months of fraught to-ing and fro-ing.

A WhatApp message from Former South African Airways (SAA) board chair Dudu Myeni to the secretary of the Public Enterprises Committee. She can't make it to the Eskom inquiry.

The DA and EFF gained a lot from the disaster that was Zuma. Both made impressive gains at the polls in recent years with the result that electoral politics, and Parliament, have been reinvigorated as sites of public contention, writes Imraan Buccus.

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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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