June 19, 2019

You are going to have to exercise some patience if you are waiting to see the sixth parliament get on with it. The official opening is the State of the Nation Address, which falls on 20 June, and that will be the first joint sitting of the new MPs. After that the plenaries begin with debates on SONA in both Houses. But the real work of parliament, as we know, happens in the committees, which only get going on 2 July.

The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and many civil society actors were disappointed and dismayed to hear that Gwede Mantashe was awarded the newly combined Mineral Resources and Energy Ministry.

This is the story of one pig farm, located on the Cape west coast, which was allocated jointly to two recipients, a Mr Cloete and a Mr Sibeko. We know nothing more about them, other than that they soon fell out, at which point the then Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) procured a different plot, which was duly allocated to Mr Cloete. Enter a Ms Ngxumeshe with an alleged claim to that land, and apparently with a lease to support it. It gets even more complicated from this point.

Lost in all the fuss about the political party (read ANC) candidates lists ‑ and who did and who did not make it, and who’s in and who’s out ‑ is an obvious but not yet asked question: why would anybody want to be elected to the sixth parliament? The fifth parliament rose in March this year leaving a lot of unfinished business, much of which will be inherited by those who next take up the seats in the Chambers.

The fifth parliament has been a parliament of firsts. It was the first time bloody noses were seen in the chamber, the first time the riot police were called into the house, the first time members were manhandled and thrown out by security staff. Remember when parliament used to be boring?

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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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