July 05, 2020

The South African parliament is fast becoming a parliament functioning in the breach rather than in the main, writes JAN-JAN JOUBERT. Over the 35 weeks of the first eight months of this year, parliament was in session for only 13 weeks, and dysfunctional or in recess for fully 22 weeks.

Big changes in electoral law are on the cards after the allegations around double-voting were made in the general election in May this year. JAN-JAN JOUBERT looks back on the drama that played out largely behind the scenes at the election results centre in Pretoria in the days immediately following the May 8 election.

As the battle about the future form of party political funding heats up, the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development has tabled amendments to the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill, 2019 in what could be a conflictual process.

The 2019 Appropriations Act, which appears to be the only act passed by the sixth parliament during its first term, includes a few nasty surprises. For one thing, even though it has not yet been through parliament and therefore does not actually exist, the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund has been allocated R2.112 billion, which is almost as much as national spending on communicable and non-communicable diseases, such as TB and HIV.

Recess has come to an end and parliamentarians return for the second term this week, which is a good time to release a report on the performance for the first term of the sixth democratic parliament. Overall comment: could try harder, easily distracted and not focused on the work that needs to be done.

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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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