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MP’s celebrate one year since being sworn into office.

The 22nd of May 2020 marks one year since MP’s of the sixth Parliament were sworn into office. The composition of Parliament is now more youthful and representative than it used to be. To commemorate this anniversary, we interviewed two MP’s who have paved the way for many young people to enter the corridors of Parliament. Luyolo Mphithi (24) from the Democratic Alliance and Itumeleng Ntsube (22) from the African National Congress are two young MP’s who shared what their first year in Parliament has meant for them.

Luyolo Mphithi

luyolo

What did taking the oath to become an MP represent for you?

“I was born in the Eastern Cape which is a very rural province here in South Africa. My grandmother at the time was a domestic worker living in the back room of the house she worked for. So, growing up I lived in a small room with four other people. This included my mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle, so you can imagine how contested the space was in that room. We had to decide who bathes first and at what time. You can imagine the complete lack of dignity in such a space. So at a very young age I constantly grappled with the idea of space, because growing up meant constantly battling and fighting for space. As a young person more and more and day by day I began to realise the lack of space that young people have within the political and economic discourse. Taking my oath meant that as a young person I can begin to contend for that space.”

What are your reflections / highlights for your first year as an MP?

“One thing that has become very clear in the first year of being an MP is that we are in the most dangerous economic and political period of our lives. Young people between the ages of 16 and 35 years are at risk of either never working their entire lives or, if they are working are basically working their whole lives having a lower standard of living. We need to break this establishment and inspire young people to give legitimacy to our democracy and break the stranglehold which continues to force extreme inequality, small middle class, lack of opportunities for young people and inspire entrepreneurs to risk it all.”

What are your plans and / or expectations for the rest of the Sixth Parliament?

“Times are changing we need to keep up with them. Young people are drawn more to movements rather than political parties. So, what are the issues that matter to young people and how do we capture them and articulate them as youth MPs? We need policy proposals that are out of the box, that are intriguing to young people, and policies that break the many silences that we have become accustomed to. We need to contend for the space and eventually own it.” Read more about Luyolo Mphithi here

Itumeleng Ntsube

itu ntsube

What did taking the oath to become an MP represent for you?

“It signifies the hope that South Africans has bestowed upon me, particularly the youth of our country that are currently looking upon one of their own to deliver them from triple challenge of unemployment, inequality and poverty. It represents service to our people who have elected us to be MPs that continue to hold the executive to account. But, more importantly, to see through that we are bound to make or pass laws/bills that are pro-poor and pro working-class, and laws that are really about uplifting our people so that they may be advantageous to those who have been advantageous by the former apartheid regime.”

What are your reflections / highlights for your first year as an MP?

“I witnessed as an MP the President of the republic deliver his first State of the Nattion Address (SONA) at the sixth administration and fortunate enough I was and still an MP. For the first time, outside of our political party engagements with the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr DD Mabuza got to answer questions I posed and cabinet ministers taking questions in a government. To represent parliament at SADC Youth Plenary to discuss all issues affecting the Youth around SADC. Lastly it was when I gave my maiden speech around global warming in plenary.”

What are your plans and / or expectations for the rest of the Sixth Parliament?

“I will continue to contribute immensely to the committees that I form part of, and to hold the executive accountable for everything that happens in government. I will equally continue to inspire my generation through the platform. I get to demonstrate to them that indeed it is possible for any young person to become whatever they wish to become in society. I will continue to influence the passing of laws and bills to benefit the poor, vulnerable and the working class at large. I'm also looking up to interact with the youth of our country across all backgrounds to keep them updated about the progress made thus far and inspire all of them to do for themselves rather to wait for somebody to do for them what they have a power to do for themselves.”

Read more about Itumeleng Ntsube here

Annual Review of the Constitution Survey

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The Week Ahead: Budget hearings & Legislation

Virtual meeting

It’s week five of the virtual Parliament.

The legislature reached a milestone last Friday when it marked the 100th virtual meeting of its oversight committees.

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a traditional, archaic and slow-moving institution transform into one trying to embrace experimentation and technology.

Some innovations are temporary and others may persist beyond this period.

It is not an easy undertaking. A lot of co-ordination is needed to enable MPs’ participation, support their use of technology and facilitate public involvement.

Not every meeting has gone smoothly and there has been criticism. The official opposition described the virtual committee meetings as "rather shambolic in nature". Parliament differed with this view: while it acknowledged there were some problems and room for improvement,; it felt, on a whole, meetings were progressing well.

It’s an imperfect system but it has worked well enough according to any objective assessment.

Creating a virtual system capable of dealing with plenary sittings will be a lot more challenging where proceedings are usually more fluid and vibrant. The National Assembly’s first virtual house sitting is scheduled for 27 May and that of the National Council of Province on 2 June. One of the upsides is that Presiding Officers will have an easier time muting lawmakers who seek to obstruct proceedings.

It's another big week in the Committee corridor where lawmakers will be dealing with leftover Annual Performance Plans and budget presentations from departments and entities.

A recurring concern is that Committees have limited time and it is not wise to spend significant time on budgets that are going to be changed significantly – in the adjusted budget -due to COVID-19.

Further, Parliament has scheduled legislative business as well meetings to discuss government’s COVID-19 response measures. We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here

Below is a summary of the most interesting meetings:

Monday, 18 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Political overview by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services on: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Department of Correctional Services; The office of the Chief Justice; Briefing by Legal Aid South Africa on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Parliamentary Legal Advisor on written submissions on the Civil Union Amendment Bill; Consideration of the Committee report on the South African Police Service budget vote.; Consideration and adoption of the outstanding minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements, (National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 2020/2021 Annual Performance Plan and budget allocation to departmental programmes and sub-programmes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 18:00-21:00

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry and Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Joint briefing with the Competition Commission and the NCC’s contribution to government’s COVID-19 response], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09;00-12:00

National Assembly Rules Committee, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Consideration of Rule on Virtual meetings in terms of National Assembly Rule 6 (Unforeseen eventualities); Consideration of Reconfiguration of the Clustered System of Government Portfolios for Questions to Ministers], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00-11:30

Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Consideration and adoption of the budget vote report of the Department of Home Affairs; Briefing by the DHA on the roll-out of the one-stop border post, refugee processing facility, the liquidation of Lindela Repatriation Facility and enhanced movement control systems], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Select Committee on Appropriations, (National Council of Provinces), [Consideration of Negotiating Mandates on the Division of Revenue Bill [B3 — 2020]], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Standing Committee on Appropriations, (National Assembly), [Briefing by National Treasury and the Land Bank on the financial issues affecting the entity], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Joint meeting: Portfolio Committee on Health and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department of Health on their of the Department of Health’s Strategic Plan for 2020/21 - 2024/25, Annual Performance Plan for 2020/21 and Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Social Development, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the department on the progress report on meeting the North Gauteng High Court deadline on foster care orders backlog], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Water and Sanitation on the 2020/2021 Budget Vote 41, Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, (National Assembly), [Discussion and adoption of the report on the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill [B2-2019]], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Friday, 22 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, (National Assembly), [Update from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition on COVID-19 measures as it pertains to its mandate], Virtual Meeting Platform, 07:00 – 10:00

Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Research on the Integration process within the SANDF; Briefing by the Parliamentary Legal Adviser on the history of the Khoisan Self Defence Unit's requests to integrate into the SANDF], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the Executive as they conduct their oversight work?

View the schedule page here.

*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.

Covid-19 Survey Findings

covid blog picture

From 8 April to 5 May 2020 we conducted a Covid-19 online survey. The aim of the survey was to drive audience engagement and to get a general idea of perspectives around COVID-19, the lockdown and related matters. The results are largely a reflection of those who came across the survey and were motivated enough to participate. Let us state up front that this is an informal, unscientific survey and does not necessarily represent the view of all members of the public. To view a scientific survey on this topic, check out this [HSRC survey].(http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/media-briefs/general/lockdown-survey-results "HSRC")

And, now that we are done with the formalities, below are the findings from 328 respondents:

How will our world look

*Respondents could choose more than one option

Indicate if pandemic has *Respondents could choose more than one option

Do you think account

Question 4: We might need an extended or shorter lockdown in the future. What regulations are unnecessary and excessive?

Respondents had varied opinions. Some felt that the lockdown is necessary and agreed with the regulations put in place by the Government. Some found the restrictions on jogging, cycling and walking dogs excessive and unnecessary. Others felt that the ban on cigarettes was unnecessary, a topic that has been widely discussed in the public.

Question 5: What measures would help citizens and the economy to recover the most after the lockdown?

Many respondents were worried that the lockdown regulations would negatively impact the economy. They raised concerns with how the regulations would affect businesses and local economies and increase unemployment. Some proposed several suggestions such as rejecting bailouts for state owned enterprises, introducing business relief funds, providing tax relief, lowering interest rates and increasing social grants to beneficiaries.

6

7

Question 8: Parliament is still approving the 2020/21 budget - where should funds be directed?

Many respondents said that more funds must be directed to primary health care, improving public hospitals and medical research, improving and supporting the public education system, especially with e-learning infrastructure during the pandemic. Others felt that the government needs to tackle basic service delivery issues such as water and electricity supply to all households. One particular respondent pointed out: “Can’t teach people how to wash their hands and at the same time those people don’t have running water!”

Question 9: How can we be better prepared in future for something similar?

Although some respondents acknowledge that it is difficult to prepare for an unforeseeable future, many felt that the health care system needs improvement, and it needs to have sufficient reserves of medical supplies to better respond to a crisis. Some said that there needs to be better policing methods that can secure communities and the country’s borders during lockdowns. Others said that the Government needs to focus on encouraging low risk businesses that are able to weather crises such as pandemics.

Question 10: What do you miss the most about life before COVID-19?

When respondents were asked what they miss the most about life before Covid-19, respondents noted that they either miss the ability to earn an income, their jobs and socialising with friends and family. An overwhelming majority of respondents said in one way or another that they miss their freedom.

The Week Ahead: Full of week of budget-related meetings

picture

It’s the second of week of budget-related meetings and the pace is quickening.

The schedule is packed as Committees continue to interrogate departments and entities on their budgets, targets and priorities for the year ahead.

As part of their oversight work, Committees have a constitutional mandate to scrutinise and thereafter approve the budget of their line department and entities. As part of this work, Committee make use of the budget information contained in the National Treasury’s Estimates of National Expenditure. Following their engagements, Committees draft a report where they analyse the Annual and Strategic Plans as presented to them and make observations and recommendations. This report forms the basis from which Members of Parliament (MPs) debate the budget and Annual Performance Plans (APPs) of departments and their entities. This process culminates with the approval of funds to a department as a Budget Vote.

So far, Committees have heard a similar story – there are budget cuts across government departments and an adjusted budget will be tabled later to accommodate government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to complaints that the virtual meetings were too short (two hours) and there was not enough time for proper engagement, the presiding officers increased the sessions to three hours. The Speaker advised Committees to use their time optimally and robustly so as to effectively engage with the Members of the Executive.

Beyond budgets, the agenda includes discussions on Covid-19 related issues, legislation, board appointments, the business rescue plans for South African Airways (SAA) and SA Express Airways and government employees (pensions, medical aids and suspensions).

Monday, 11 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Council on Higher Education (CHE) and South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) on Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 and Annual Performance Plan 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Electoral Commission (IEC) and Government Printing Works (GPW) on their Annual Performance Plans for 2020-21 and Strategic Plans for 2020-25], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Portfolio Committee on Transport, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) on its 2020/2021 Corporate Plan, including briefing by the Minister and the PRASA Administrator on their plans to effect change at the entity within the 12-month contract of the Administrator], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Office of Chief Justice on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21. Briefing by the Information Regulator on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing on the Strategic Plan and strategic priorities of the Sixth Parliament], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Budget Review on Budget Vote 16: Basic Education (2020/21) (incl. Sector Plan, Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan) by the South African Council for Educators (SACE)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-18:00

Joint Meeting: Standing Committee on Public Accounts and Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Minister of Public Enterprises and the Business Rescue Practitioners on the business rescue plans for SAA and SA Express Airways], Virtual Meeting Platform, 18:00-21:00

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Health, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on their analysis and assessment of the Department of Health’s Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Police and Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Budget hearing briefings: Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) and Independent Police Investigative (IPID)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Public Enterprises on the annual performance plan and budget for 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00 – 15:00

Thursday, 14 MY 2020

Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology and Select Committee on on Education, Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Follow-up briefing by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology on plans to save the 2020 academic year. Briefing by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 and Annual Performance Plan 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 15:00-19:00

Portfolio Committee on Communications, (National Assembly), Briefing by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on its 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and Budget; Briefing by the South African Post Office (SAPO) on its 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 18:00-21:00

Friday, 15 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Defence, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the DMV on its 2020 Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and Budget for 2020/21; Consideration and Adoption of the DOD Budget Vote Report (Vote 23)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00

Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the National Youth Development Agency on Annual Performance Plan for 2020/21 and Strategic Plan and Budget for 2020/2025], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the South African Human Rights Commission on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21. Briefing by the Special Investigative Unit on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Public Protector South Africa on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00

Portfolio Committee on Communications, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) on its 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 13:00-15:00

Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the executive as they conduct their oversight work?

View the schedule page here.

*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.

Ockert Stefanus Terblanche

"Dear South Africans, let’s work hard to build one South Africa for all!"

Ockert

What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?

I moved down to Mossel Bay after I left the SA Police Service at the end of August 2010. I held the rank of Major General. During the Local Government Elections (2011), I assisted the DA in Mossel Bay with their campaign and was later elected as the Ward Chairperson for Ward 10 Mossel Bay.

What does your job as an MP entail? What do you enjoy about being an MP?

In Parliament, we as MPs represent the people of this country. We are responsible for lawmaking and oversight, keeping the Executive to account and are also responsible for our constituencies allocated to us individually.

What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the Sixth Parliament?

I am a very proud DA representative. We in the DA aspire to build "One South Africa for All”- an open opportunity society where everybody enjoys real freedom and all the benefits of this country.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?

Parliament is a very important institution. We must observe and uphold its dignity and encourage robust debate.

Which Constituency Office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of Constituency work you engaged in?

I have served the party in many constituencies. Currently, I am responsible for Prince Albert. Job creation is our number one priority.

Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?

The opposition is trying its best. However, Cabinet Ministers are not always informed.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favor of electoral reform?

The current system is best under the prevailing circumstances in South Africa.

What can be done to get citizens more interested/ involved in Parliament? Is this an area where Parliament can improve and if so, what recommendations do you have? What are you passionate about? This applies both in political/ professional arena as well as personally?

MPs must try to focus on issues that are best for citizens of this country.

What is your message to South Africa?

Dear South Africans, let’s work hard to build one South Africa for all!

The Week Ahead: Focus shifts to budget-related matters

money

Due to COVID-19 and the accompanying restrictions, Parliament is a very different place: virtual meetings are scheduled on Monday’s (this is usually allocated for constituency work), public holidays and even in the late afternoon/early evening.

And with Parliament still discussing how to conduct plenary business, work is confined to the Committee corridor.

Since resuming business, the legislature has priortised a schedule of virtual Committee meetings, whose scope of oversight relates to government departments driving COVID-19 response.

View: COVID-19: Parliamentary Oversight & Discussions

While this oversight continues, the focus – from this week onwards - shifts to passing the national budget. The Appropriation Bill is passed by Parliament and based on this; funds are allocated to departments and entities. Government can only spend money if it has been approved by Parliament.

The legislature’s budget vote season is a sprint. This annual ritual includes meetings with various departments and entities on their Strategic Plans, Annual Performance Plans and budgets for the financial year. Committees then have to prepare a report for consideration by the House.

It has become practice for Ministers and/or Deputy Ministers to be present at these meetings. They will be given an opportunity to set out their overall vision as well as their agenda and targets for the year ahead.

Because of time constraints (this is not a new issue but has been exacerbated in the period of virtual meetings), this process will bring into sharp focus Parliament's oversight processes. The usual complaints are that these proceedings are hurried and there is not enough time for proper engagement. To make things more challenging, NA and NCOP Committees will be meeting jointly so all MPs need time to ask their questions. Chairpersons set the tone and will be expected to ensure proper time management.

Here is a rundown of the highlights:

Monday, 4 May 2020

Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, (National Assembly), [ Briefing by the DPWI on Properties earmarked for use as quarantine facilities for COVID19 patients. The role of EPWP beneficiaries during the COVID19 period. Report on the Beitbridge fence erection project], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 16:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Tourism and Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing (update) by the Minister of Tourism on the impact of Covid -19 pandemic to the Tourism Industry, and mitigating measures initiated by the Department. Consideration of Revised Committee Programme for Second Term of 2020. Draft minutes of 17th March 2020], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Portfolio Committee on Communications (Subcommittee on Communications), (National Assembly), [ Interview of the remaining candidate for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Council. Shortlisting for the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Board], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Joint Meeting: Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by National Treasury and the South African Revenue Services on Strategic Plan and Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 13:00

Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the DOD on its 2020 Annual Performance Plan; Strategic Plan and Budget for 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Standing Committee on Appropriations, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Human Sciences Research Council on the 2020 Appropriation Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 16:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Transport and Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Transport on its on 2020/21 Budget, Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan. Briefing by the Driving Licence Card Trading Account (DLCA) on its 2020/21 Strategic and Annual Performance Plans. Briefing by the Minister and the DLCA on the progress with the proposed new card specifications and the acquisition of a new card production machine as well as the plans in place and steps taken by the entity to ensure continued compliance with the processing of driver’s licence card production], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises and Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Minister of Public Enterprises on the strategic plan and budget vote; including update on the developments in state-owned companies. Briefing by the Minister of Public Enterprises and the Business Rescue Practitioners on rescue plan and the latest developments for SAA and South African Express Airways], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy and Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on their Strategic Plan 2020 - 2025, Annual Performance Plan 2020/21 and its Budget Vote No 34], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 16:00

Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on their Annual Performance Plan 2020/21 & Strategic Plans for 2020-25], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Social Development and Select Committee on Health and Social Services, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Auditor-General on the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Social Development and its entities and Department of Health], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Friday, 8 May 2020

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Police and Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [(Joint briefings) Budget hearing briefings: South African Police Service (SAPS): Programme 3: Detectives; DPCI budget Programme 4: Crime Intelligence and Programme 5: Protection and Security Services], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 16:00

Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa on audited Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans of the Departments of Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and the entities], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Office of Chief Justice on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21. Briefing by the South African Human Rights Commission on its Strategic Plan, APP and Budget 2020/21], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the executive as they conduct their oversight work?

View the schedule page here.

*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.

The Week Ahead: Virtual meetings continue

image

The sound and picture quality was occasionally poor. There were IT glitches, MPs struggled to operate the mute function and meetings took time to get going.

However, the first week of virtual committee meetings was a relative success. The technical staff worked hard behind the scenes to coordinate everything and make the meetings (for the most part anyway) accessible to the public.

It’s unclear how long Parliament will operate under this new model but this has accelerated the Legislature's plans to become an e-Parliament.

Creating a virtual system capable of dealing with plenary sittings will be a lot more challenging where proceedings are usually more fluid and vibrant.

The coming week sees Parliament scheduling more virtual committee meetings, whose scope of oversight relates to government departments driving COVID-19 response measures.

Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the executive as they conduct their oversight work?

We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here

Monday, 27 April 2020

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Health and Select Committee on Health and Social Services, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Minister of Health on the state of readiness of quarantine sites in provinces, shortage of personal protective equipment, services provided to refugees and asylum seekers, financial/budgetary implications of this pandemic for the Department, policy implications post the pandemic and update on vaccine trials], Virtual Meeting Platform, 07:00 – 09:00

Portfolio Committee on Health: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Dhlomo l Committee Secretary: Ms Vuyokazi Majalamba l Email: vmajalamba@parliament.gov.za

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Portfolio Committee on Communications, (National Assembly), [Adoption of draft second term programme; Briefing by the Department and entities on COVID-19 activities; Briefing by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on the government communications strategy on COVID-19], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 13:00

Portfolio Committee on Communications: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Maneli l Committee Secretary: Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma l Email: tngoma@parliament.gov.za

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on the removal and movement of refugees in Cape Town Central Business District during the lockdown. Period; Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on the areas of services to be rendered during the COVID-19 period; Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on the closure and opening of the Ports of entry during the COVID-19 period; Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on the alleged procurement of the Beitbridge borderline fence and the logistics services for the removal of the refugees in Cape Town], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 16:00

Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Bongo l Committee Secretary: Mr Eddie Mathonsi l Email: emathonsi@parliament.gov.za

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development and Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Small Business Development on Financial Support Interventions recently announced by the Minister during Covid 19 Lockdown, with reference to: Number or spread of applications received per each category and approvals; SMME Business / Growth Resilience Facility; SMME Debt Relief Scheme; Spaza Support Relief Scheme; How is the Department dealing with influx of applications], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Siwela l Committee Secretary: Mr King Kunene l Email: kkunene@parliament.gov.za

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Department of Basic Education on an Update and Status of Schooling during COVID-19 Lockdown; Possible Joint Video/Tele-Conference with SC on Education and Technology, Arts and Culture], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 12:00

Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Mbinqo-Gigabal Committee Secretary: Mr Llewellyn Brown l Email: lbrown@parliament.gov.za

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Police and Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the SAPS on police management of the National State Disaster lockdown; Briefing by IPID on police misconduct during the National State Disaster lockdown], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00 – 16:00

Portfolio Committee on Police: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Joemat-Pettersson l Committee Secretaries: Ms Babalwa Mbengo l Email: bmbengo@parliament.gov.za or Ms Zoleka Kula l Email: zkula@parliament.gov.za

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing on measures taken by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services to deal with COVID-19 in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Correctional Services], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:00 – 18:00

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services : Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Magwanishe l Committee Secretary: Siyabamkela Mthonjeni l Email: smthonjeni@parliament.gov.za

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry and Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Industry Development, Small Business development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing to engage the Minister on Government’s response to the potential negative impact of the Corona-virus pandemic on the economy and the measures considered to mitigate against it], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30

Portfolio Committee on Transport: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Zwane l Committee Secretary: Ms Valerie Carelse l Email: vcarelse@parliament.gov.za

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Transport and Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [The Minister to brief the Committees and provide an update on the implementation of Covid-19 regulations in terms of the following aspects: The current adherence to the regulations and implementation by the Department of Transport thereof in terms of the following: Statistics of vehicle movement from 26 March 2020 to date on all roads that have vehicle counting technology installed (TomTom vehicle movement information, ETC vehicle count technology on Gauteng Highways, SANRAL toll gate vehicle count information, Provincial road vehicle count technology installed on roads); Level of compliance with regulations by Public transport operators per category; Indicate how non-compliance (if any) has been reprimanded. Assessing specific sectors of transportation of people involved in essential services. Transportation of essential goods. Transportation of petroleum products from source of production, refineries, storage facilities to service stations. Transportation of goods from the ports in terms of: Figures of cross border road traffic to/from neighbouring countries; Level of compliance (statistics) in the Maritime and Aviation sector; Indicate how non-compliance (if any) has been reprimanded. Transportation of mine workers under new regulations; Health safety standards on public transport; and Plans for the phased introduction of transport that is not operational during the lockdown period, including the future of Public Transport (all modes) and mitigation measures to be put in place (such as adherence to social distancing and continued sanitizing of transport)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00 – 12:00

Portfolio Committee on Transport: Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Zwane l Committee Secretary: Ms Valerie Carelse l Email: vcarelse@parliament.gov.za

Joint Meeting: Select and Standing Committees on Finance, Standing Committee on Appropriations and Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by National Treasury on the Fiscal Implication of COVID-19; Briefing by National Treasury on the Impact of COVID-19 on the fiscal framework and Appropriations; Briefing by National Treasury on interventions by government to save and stimulate the economy; Briefing by National Treasury implications of non-compliance with procurement laws and policies], Virtual Meeting Platform, 13:00

Standing Committee on Finance: Address the letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Maswanganyi l Committee Secretary: Mr Allan Wicomb l Email: awicomb@parliament.gov.za

*If you click the Committee link above, you will find the Committee Membership and can copy your letter to individual committee members also

View the schedule page here.

*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.

COVID-19: How countries were affected and how governments responded

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Tedros Adhanom, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned in 2018 that no country is fully prepared to fight a new pandemic. Fast forward to 2020 and this prediction has come to fruition: the COVID-19 virus has brought the entire world to a standstill. Governments across the world have responded to the pandemic with an extraordinary sense of urgency to save human life. Grisly cases of COVID-19 deaths in poor countries like Ecuador have seen scores of dead bodies left on sidewalks. Developed countries have also not been spared with thousands dying in the United States, UK, Spain and Italy. This blog explores how countries were affected and governments responded to contain the pandemic and bring relief.

China

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan City on the 31st of December 2019. The city has a population of over 11 million people and by the 23rd of January 2020 Wuhan was placed on quarantine. Early on, many applauded the Chinese government for rapidly constructing hospitals to treat those affected.

However, critics argued that the Chinese government could have responded much faster and more transparently. Dr Li Wenliang, a physician at Wuhan Central Hospital, first reported the outbreak to local government officials in early December of 2019. Despite this, the government accused Dr Wenliang of spreading false rumours. The government also cracked down on journalists and implemented tougher restrictions on media freedom, under the guise of containing misinformation and fake news.

China has also not been transparent in revealing an accurate number of deaths, especially in Wuhan city where it under reported by 50%. This not only skewed the extent to which the virus was deadly, but also did not inspire any confidence that China is a capable state fit to deal with a pandemic in a way that is transparent, and reflective of reality. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China is expected to have economic growth of 1,2% this year. However there are fears that once the country opens its economy, new cases of COVID-19 may re-emerge.

Italy

COVID-19 has devastated Italy. Its population is largely elderly people whose immune systems are weathered by old age and chronic illnesses. Despite having one of the best health care systems in the world, the rapid rate of severe infections overwhelmed the country’s health care system, almost bringing it to a collapse. Many countries learnt lessons from the Italian experience. The country did not recognise the magnitude of the threat posed by COVID-19, and failed to organize a systematic response to it. It was slow to implement strict social distancing measures. On the positive side, the country showed that the outbreak can be contained by doing extensive testing; proactive tracing and monitoring of medical personnel and other vulnerable workers.

Italy’s five week lockdown has seen a decrease in the number of infections and deaths, prompting the government to consider a gradual lift of the lockdown. Phase two of its lockdown regulations is intended to start on the 4th of May 2020 and citizens will be obligated to wear face masks in public spaces. As the country also opens its economy, at least 30% of workers would still have to work from home.

United States of America

The USA has the unenviable distinction of having the most number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. President of the USA, Donald Trump has made many worrisome statements about how well the country is responding to the pandemic. However, the most worrisome to date, is the comment that the USA would have done a “very good job” if it kept the country’s COVID-19 deaths at 100 000. New York is the worst affected city.

Despite this, Donald Trump is persistent in his move to open the US economy. Some protesters have supported this call arguing that it has far more devastating effects on the economy. As with any pandemic or socio-economic crisis, poor people are disproportionately affected. Much of the effects of COVID-19 in poor black communities have been due to a lack in access to health insurance, having pre-existing health conditions, or working in service-jobs that requires them to be in-contact with people. The death toll of black Americans in Chicago is 72% even though they make up 30% of population in the city. In Michigan 41% of black Americans died even though they made up 14% of the population in the city. Millions are unemployed resulting in long lines at food banks.

About 28 million Americans do not have medical aid, which prompted the federal government to roll out a free COVID-19 testing programme. The federal government allocated a $2 trillion emergency package to relieve citizens. This money is intended to replenish medical supplies, fund social welfare grants, unemployment insurance payouts, aid small and big businesses and fund the air and road freight industry.

South Africa

Inequality in South Africa is glaring and the government has had to buckle up quite tightly in its fight against COVID-19. There is a large population of poor people who are HIV/Aids positive and carry other pre-existing conditions such high blood pressure, diabetes and Tuberculosis. These communities are often located in over-populated townships and informal settlements where social distancing, access to water, sanitation and housing are also in crisis mode.

The number of food riots that have erupted in poor communities across the country, has also shown that the COVID-19 virus is as much a hunger crisis, as it is a health crisis. Although the South African government has made food parcels available to indigent people, it helps no one when some Councillors distribute food parcels to their own family and friends.

The South African National Defence Force was deployed to assist the police in maintaining law and order during the lockdown. Most were deployed to the townships. Residents in many of these areas have accused the law enforcement authorities of using excessive force and humiliating them.

As the lockdown continues, governments across the world are facing pressure from business and citizens to reopen their economies. Governments have the difficult task of saving lives, maintaining livelihoods, and preventing a resurgence of COVID-19. As a result, many are taking a staggered approach when lifting lockdown restrictions. In the immediate future, people should still practice good hygiene and social distancing while participating in the economy. However in the long term governments will have to make drastic and systemic changes to prepare for a new outbreak in the future, and secondly re-think the ways in which the world can operate better.

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