September 26, 2018

Parliament’s High Level Panel (HLP) could provide much-needed guidance and answers to the current land debate, writes ANINKA CLAASSENS.

Close to the end of March (the 27th to be exact), the National Assembly passed the long-awaited Political Party Funding Bill, registering a great victory for South Africa’s democracy.

Notes from the House publishes a regular column of briefs about the things that go on in Parliament that you wouldn’t normally see. This is not fake news – though you may wonder if all of it can possibly be true.

One of Parliament’s chief objectives is oversight, and the tool it uses for 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. Except that many answers leave South Africans with more questions. Here are some examples.

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.

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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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