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The Week Ahead: It's Budget 2020 Week

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's budget speech on Wednesday will dominate headlines this week.

The Minister has a tough job to do as he seeks to address significant social challenges, satisfy public pressure and reassure investors and ratings agencies.

Low economic growth; wastage and corruption; mismanagement at local, provincial and national government; revenue shortfalls and underperformance of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are some of the major challenges facing the country.

The speech itself is designed to outline plans to spend resources for the benefit of all South Africans and introduce new taxes. Since there is a limit to the resources, there is an increased need for proper budgeting to allocate scarce resources to various governmental activities. The speech will be accompanied with the tabling of the Appropriation Bill and Division of Revenue Bill.

Following on from the State of the Nation Address, the speech is expected to focus heavily on government’s plans to grow the economy and fix broken SOEs.

In addition, there will be a lot of attention on the spending allocated to government’s social and infrastructure programmes and plans to reduce the budget deficit and public sector wage bill. In his 2019 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, the Minister indicated that after adjusting for inflation, the average government wage rose by 66% in the last ten years. He may announce measures to cut down on this.

The President admitted that the economy has not grown at any meaningful rate for over a decade, that the recovery has stalled because of persistent energy problems and public finances are under severe pressure. Both the World Bank and IMF have cut the country’s 2020 GDP growth prospects to a meagre 0.9% and 0.8% respectively.

Public finances are constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development. Against this backdrop, government has to do more with less and needs to be efficient in the use of financial resources.

Exercising budgetary and fiscal oversight is one of Parliament's basic tasks. The budget presented by the Minister is not the final budget but a proposal that has to be scrutinised and approved by Parliament.

Tuesday’s NA plenary is fairly routine and dotted with usual items like Members’ Statements, Motions without Notice and Notices of Motion. Lawmakers are also set to pass two Bills.

There are two mini-plenaries scheduled for Thursday. According to the rules, any MP can propose a subject for discussion – this mechanism provides an opportunity for the House to debate a particular topic without being required to take a decision at the end of the debate.

Subject for discussion (Dr NP Nkabane): Transforming society and uniting the country by cultivating a shared recommitment to constitutional values that promote nation building, strengthen social cohesion and improve the quality of life for all South Africans (ANC)

Subject for discussion (Mr V Zungula): The ring-fencing of the micro economy for the exclusive use of South Africans (ATM)

Meanwhile, there is nothing scheduled in the NCOP chamber this week.

Elsewhere, the National House of Traditional Leaders will be officially opened for the 2020 business by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday.

There is some significant action in the Committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The Portfolio Committee on Transport will meet with the Minister of Transport to discuss the appointment of the Administrator for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) as well as on plans to address challenges at the entity. Last year, the Committee welcomed the intervention and hoped that it will bring about the required stability at the agency. It also called on the administrator to put controls in place to stop financial mismanagement at the entity once and for all. (Tuesday)

The Standing and Select Committee on Finance will receive a pre-budget briefing from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). Each year, the PBO provides independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and financial implications of proposals ahead of the speech. Separately, the Standing Committee on Appropriations as it holds a pre-2020 budget workshop with National Treasury on the budget instruments to be tabled by the Minister of Finance. (Tuesday)

The Tourism Committee will meet with the Chinese consulate General to discuss the Corona Virus and its implications for the tourism sector. (Tuesday)

Last year, the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs raised concern regarding the late submission of the annual report by the Department of Cooperative Governance. The Committee stated that “the perpetual non-adherence must come to an end and proper consequence management must be implemented henceforth in the case of non-adherence”. The Committee will finally be briefed by the Department on its 2018/19 performance. (Tuesday)

Transformation in the forestry and fisheries sectors and the municipal audit outcomes will be in the spotlight at two Committee meetings. (Tuesday)

In the Fifth Parliament, the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings considered a petition requesting the intervention of the NCOP in amending the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (Act 75 of 1997) to include or provide for elder care leave. Following extensive deliberations on the submissions made during the hearings on the petition, the Committee found that allowing for elder-care leave was in line with provisions in the Bill of Rights and recommended the matter be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Labour for its exhaustive consideration and ultimate resolution. Further, it advised the Portfolio Committee to take into consideration the international best practice on the provision of elder care leave including the approach taken by developing countries like South Africa. The petitioner will brief the Portfolio Committee. (Wednesday)

In 2018, government initiated a countrywide investigation into the corruption allegations levelled against the Office of the State Attorney. Led by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the investigations have uncovered allegations of apparent collusion between certain officials within the State Attorney’s Office, private legal practitioners and real or fictitious litigants to defraud and conduct other acts of irregular and corrupt activities against the state. The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will get a progress report. (Wednesday)

Prior to the budget speech, there will be a lock-up session on the 2020 budget with the joint Finance and Appropriation Committees from both Houses. (Wednesday)

The Minister of Finance will brief the joint Finance and Appropriations Committees on the 2019 Budget. (Thursday)

The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services will brief MPs on its vision and revised Business Operational Plan/Model. Last year, the entity reported that it is not sufficiently independent and it should not be a programme within DCS but should be a ‘government component’. (Friday)

In between, there will be detailed legislating as MPs consider the following Bills: NHI Bill; Judicial Matters Amendment Bill; Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill; Local Government: Municipal Systems Amendment Bill; Military Discipline Bill; Defence Amendment Bill; Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill; National Land Transport Amendment Bill and Social Assistance Amendment Bill.

View the full schedule 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.

Mr George Michalakis

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

I got involved in politics on campus at the University of the Free State and joined the DA in 2007. I was one of a very small group of liberal students during a very rough time in the university’s history. Trying to bring people together as individuals- each with unique qualities and values- to create something good has been what motivated me then and it still does today. I became a municipal Councillor at the age of 23 in 2011, and came to Parliament three years later.

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

Our job is simply to hold the Executive to account and to make good, sensible laws for South Africa. However, the ultimate goal of this is to ensure every person lives their best life with as much individual freedom and opportunity as possible. We’re still a far away from creating this for everyone, but because our job relates to the hopes and aspirations of the people, the part that I enjoy the most is getting to meet and to know as many of the wonderful people we represent as possible. We really have wonderful people in this country!

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

It is all about creating a better country for everyone who lives in it, really. We will do everything we can with the tools to our disposal to contribute towards this. Jobs, safety and opportunities for every single person should be the main focus. Of course we will also seek to lay the foundation for a future (better) government that can realise these aspirations. I can only hope that the Sixth Parliament will be a battle of ideas that will ultimately seek to take our country forward.

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

Speaking from a perspective of the NCOP, I think that a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that we do not simply copy the work of the National Assembly, but that we firstly understand the role of the NCOP and, secondly, fulfil this constitutional mandate. From the DA’s side, we are committed to this, but it will take an effort across party lines to change the current ineffectiveness.

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

I am very proud to represent the areas in which Masilonyana and Tswelopele municipalities fall. I was born and raised in Winburg and my family has had ties with Hoopstad for decades, both of which fall within my constituency. My constituency is comprised of six small Free State towns with the warmest, friendliest and most hard-working people you will ever come across and I am proud to not only represent these communities, but to regard myself as part of the community.

I make it a point that I am available for person interactions with constituents over weekends, on Mondays and during constituency periods, although our job is a 24-hour one, so it is not unusual to be in contact with constituents even on days when I am in Cape Town. However, it is important to visit the constituency as much as possible to see problems first hand. As Helen Suzman said: go and see for yourself! This is the only way in which we can really represent the people who live in our constituencies effectively.

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

I think that Parliament’s role is vital in keeping our democracy robust and to build trust between the public and our democratic institutions. However, I do think that party loyalty, especially on the part of the governing party, is sometimes placed above the interest of the people in Parliament - and wrongly so! We should definitely look at ways in which the committees can be more robust in their scrutiny of the Executive - this is, after all, where the bulk of the work takes place.

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

The DA has in the past proposed legislation that would bring the system more in line with the recommendations of the Van Zyl Slabbert Report. The recommendations of this report and the process of electoral reform has been stalled by the ANC for 16 years already and for no reason. We do need to have a system that will make MPs more accountable to the people that they represent. I cannot imagine how you can be an effective MP when you only regard yourself accountable to your party and not to the people who elected you as well. My DA colleagues and I certainly try our best to do both.

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?

We, as MPs, can be on the ground in our constituencies as much as possible. I try to make use of every opportunity to inform my constituents - regardless of which party they vote for - about ways in which they can take part in the legislative process and/or to bring issues that are important to them to Parliament. If we don’t make our work more transparent and more accessible, we would defy the whole purpose of a democratic Parliament. Keeping the public informed and explaining to them how Parliament works also goes a long way in helping with this. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. In this regard, I also think that entities such as PMG do a wonderful job in building that communication network and enhancing transparency.

I get very excited at the prospect of meeting interesting people and seeing interesting places. It challenges the way you see the world and your ideas that ultimately leads to better ideas and (best case scenario) a change for the better. I think that is part of why I enjoy my job so much. Linked to this is my passion for travelling and reading and of course, debate and good conversations not only on politics, but anything really. We only have a limited time on earth. I would like to spend it enriching my own life with as many ideas and experiences as possible whilst at the same time using those experiences and ideas to leave this place a bit better than when I found it (even in a small sense).

What is your message to South Africa?

We have a beautiful country. Division, corruption, hate... this is not who we are. We have a brilliant future ahead of us if we choose to make it a reality; if we embrace each other, work hard for it and demand nothing but the best from those who are chosen to lead our country. The power lies with all of us to unite and build a better future.

To learn more about this Member, visit his profile.

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SONA over the years - Themes and Priorities

Below, we have provided you with a breakdown of the SONAs from 2015 to 2020. We did not include the SONA that took place at the beginning of 2019, on the 7th of Februar, we focused on the SONA that was delivered after the elections.

So for a breakdown of themes and priorities for 2015-2020, please see below.

The Week Ahead: SONA Debates & Legislation

It’s taken a few weeks but Parliament is finally firing on all cylinders with plenty of action beckoning in both the main chamber and the Committee corridor.

The main events will be the joint debate on the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the President’s reply on Thursday.

The debate allows MPs to respond to the President’s speech, and for the opposition, it is an opportunity to give a rebuttal. This occasion is a highlight of the parliamentary calendar as all party leaders and a galaxy of heavyweight MPs take part.

Reacting immediately after the speech, opposition parties welcomed some parts of it and expressed disappointment in other aspects.

The debate follows a predictable path: the opposition attacks the President and governing party for not offering new ideas and highlights all their failures. In return, the governing party defends the President, government's record and proposals and points out weaknesses in the opposition. The President gets the final say when he rounds off proceedings.

Speaker after speaker bear their political fangs. Jibes, rhetoric and heckling are the norm. The presiding officers are tested as they remind speakers not to depart from the purpose of the debate and try to maintain control.

View SONA 2019 Debate

Away from Plein Street, the Portfolio Committee on Health will embark on the final leg of public hearings on the NHI Bill in Gauteng. It will be spread over four days and the venues include: Soshanguve, Kagiso, Soweto and Germiston. You can track the processing of the NHI Bill through Parliament here

While most of the attention will be focused on the debate, the Committee corridor will also generate its fair share of attention. Here is a run down of some of the most interesting meetings:

SCOPA carried out oversight visits to Medupi and Kusile power stations last year. In its oversight report, the Committee highlighted that: “The building of these coal-fired power stations, which started in 2007 and 2008, has been hit by cost overruns, poor engineering designs, labour problems and allegations of corruption. The projects were initially budgeted at R79 billion for Medupi and R81 billion for Kusile. However, due to delays and other defects identified during and post construction, the costs of the projects have increased by more than R300 billion, currently reaching R145 billion for Medupi and R161.4 billion for Kusile”. The Committee proposed 23 recommendations including: 1) “Consequence management must be followed through where wrongdoing has been proven, and quarterly reports in this regard should be submitted to SCOPA” and 2) “Quarterly reports on progress and expenditure must be submitted to SCOPA”. In line with this, SCOPA has arranged a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises to get an update on the implementation of the recommendations. (Tuesday)

The South African Reserve Bank will brief legislators on Economic Performance and Outlook. Just last week, the President admitted that the economy has not grown at any meaningful rate for over a decade, that the recovery has stalled because of persistent energy problems and public finances are under severe pressure. Both the World Bank and IMF have cut the country’s 2020 GDP growth prospects to a meagre 0.9% and 0.8% respectively. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education will brief MPs on two reports compiled by the SA Human Rights Commission: Report of the SAHRC on National Investigative Hearing into the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa and Report of the SAHRC on North West Provincial Investigative Hearing into Lack of Safety and Security Measures in Schools for Children with Disabilities in South Africa. (Tuesday)

SCOPA and the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises will get an update from SAA on outstanding matters. One matter that is certain to come up is the move by the business practitioner to cut domestic routes. This decision has received criticism in some quarters with some voicing their objections and asking government to intervene. The airliner is also embarking on a restructuring process which may lead to job losses. (Wednesday)

Last year, the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs raised concern regarding the late submission of the annual report by the Department of Cooperative Governance. The Committee stated that “the perpetual non-adherence must come to an end and proper consequence management must be implemented henceforth in the case of non-adherence”. The Committee will be meeting with the Auditor-General of South Africa on the Department’s Annual Report audit outcome. Also on the agenda is a briefing on the 2018/19 local government audit outcomes. (Wednesday)

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) will present its annual report to the Standing Committee on Finance. MPs will be keen to get the entity’s reaction to Cosatu’s proposal that R250-billion of state employees’ pension money be used to alleviate some of Eskom’s debt. (Wednesday)

South Africa assumed the chairship of the African Union for 2020. MPs will be briefed on the country’s priorities and the challenges that need to be addressed in the next 12 months. President Ramaphosa has identified Libya and South Sudan as the two conflicts he wants to focus on during his tenure. (Wednesday)

The Sub-Committee on Correctional Services will get a briefing from the Department of Correctional Services on its 3rd Quarter 2019/20 performance; the filling of key vacancies and litigation cost. (Friday)

In between, MPs will be discussing and considering several Bills: Border Management Authority Bill; Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill; National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill; Military Discipline Bill and Social Assistance Amendment Bill.

View the full schedule 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: It’s all about #SONA2020

On Thursday, all eyes will be fixated on Parliament for the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The speech, due to be delivered at 19:00 before a combined gathering of Parliament, the Judiciary and the public, will be a report on the economic and social state of the nation, and include a review of the past year and priorities for the current year.

In the lead up, the entire precinct will be abuzz with that special energy that comes with such an event as construction and cleaning crews do last minute touch ups, security personnel do their drills and those participating in the parade undertake rehearsals. The perimeter outside the legislature will also be impacted by road closures.

It’s one of the most important speeches that the President delivers in any year. With a prime time tv audience, it is a tremendous PR opportunity for the President to simultaneously lay out his agenda and reassure doubters - both local and foreign.

The occasion is steeped in tradition and includes a red carpet procession, a 21-gun salute and an Air Force flypast.

Government’s dwindling finances, persistent unemployment and inequality, a weakened and untransformed economy, corruption and problems weighing down state-owned companies are some of the major challenges facing the country. With so many pressing needs, the President will be expected to talk to these issues in his speech. He could also make one or two surprise policy announcements.

Violence, disruptions and walk-outs have marred previous addresses in recent years. The EFF has announced its intention to disrupt proceedings if the President did not remove Minister Gordhan from his post. It's therefore possible that more chaos can be expected this year.

As the President steps up to the dais, he will know that there are a lot of expectations and that the public and financial markets will be watching the speech closely.

Read our blog on: All You Need To Know About SONA

Watch the 2019 June SONA here

Despite the scant two-day schedule, there are several interesting meetings lurking in the Committee corridor this week. Here is a breakdown:

The Department of Basic Education will brief lawmakers on the state of school readiness for 2020. The briefing will be wide-ranging covering topics like learner admissions and registration, undocumented learners, teacher provisioning, learning and teaching support materials, basic infrastructure and learner transport. The Department will also present on the outcomes of the 2019 National Senior Certificate examination. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy will meet with the Department and Business Rescue Practitioners on the investigation conducted following the incident that happened in Lilly Mine and resulted in three workers being trapped underground in a container. In its Legacy Report, the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources recommended that the incoming committee follow ups with new owners of the Lily mine to ensure that as mining commences efforts to retrieve the bodies of three Lily Mine employees are also accelerated. (Tuesday)

In 2019, the Department of Higher Education and Training signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa to accelerate and fund government’s Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP). SHIP aims to develop 300 000 new beds at the 26 public universities and 50 public Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges. Legislators will get an update on this programme. The student protests at UWC due to student accommodation will be raised sharply during this engagement. (Tuesday)

The challenges faced by community radio stations will be in the spotlight when the Media Development and Diversity Agency briefs MPs on this topic as well as its interventions to address the challenges. (Wednesday)

In between, MPs will be looking at legislation: National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill; Department of Agriculture Land Reforms and Rural Development legislative programme and the Database, Skills Audit and the Military Veterans Amendment Act.

View the full schedule 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

#SONA2020: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. What is the SONA?

It is an annual address given by the President to a joint session of Parliament and marks the official opening of the legislature. It is designed to be a report on the economic and social state of the nation, and includes a review of the past year and priorities for the current year. This is a special and unique occasion where all three arms of the state are in the same place together.

In a general election year, two State of the Nation Addresses are delivered.

This is the only item on the agenda for this special sitting and it is presided by both the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

2. Time and place

SONA will be delivered on Thursday, February 13 at 19:00 to a prime time tv audience. Since 2010, SONA has been delivered in the evening to give more South Africans an opportunity to listen to the address. The setting is the same as always: the National Assembly Chamber.

3. Theme

The theme for this year is: “Following up on our commitments: making your future work better”

4. What will the President say?

The speech will seek to build on previous speeches and commitments. The speech will also be an opportunity for the President to update the nation on progress made and layout his plans and vision to grow South Africa.

5. Who are the key guests at the State of the Nation Address?

Guests include former Presidents and Deputy Presidents, former presiding officers of Parliament, the judiciary, Premiers and Speakers of provincial legislatures, the heads of Chapter 9 institutions, religious leaders, business owners, trade unionists, school learners, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, members of the diplomatic corps and the Mayor of Cape Town. The President’s special guests include local and foreign people who have made a positive contribution to society and achieved extraordinary things.

A total of 2021 guests from various categories have been invited for this event. The National Assembly gallery can only accommodate 720 people, so the overflow are accommodated in other parts of the parliamentary precinct.

6. Budget

The budget for SONA is set at R4,7 million. Parliament budgeted R7.3 million for the June 2019 SONA and the 2020 event. The 2019 June only cost R2.6m and it is expected that spending will be less than the budgeted amount.

There will be no post-Address dinner for MPs and guests. The reduction in the event marketing and the advertising budget has also boosted cost containment measures.

7. When do political parties get to respond to the SONA?

The debate on the State of the Nation Address will take place on 18 and 19 February. The President will reply to the debate on 20 February.

The debate allows the opposition to give a rebuttal to the President’s speech while those from the governing party defend the President and government's record and proposals.

8. What is the format of the ceremony?

The ceremony involves a mounted police escort and a military ceremonial motor escort, the lining of the President’s route to Parliament by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), a national salute by the Ceremonial Guard of the SANDF, a military band, a salute flight by the South African Air Force and a 21-gun salute.

Various aspects of the public participation elements have been cut back in order to save costs. Elements cut include the junior and civil guard who form a guard of honour for the state procession. The Eminent Persons, who are usually selected from provinces on the basis of their outstanding achievements in their respective fields, will also not be part of the ceremony. Nine lucky winners of radio competition selected from each of our provinces to attend the joint sitting have also not been included for this event.

In keeping with tradition, an imbongi will be part of the procession when the President enters the chamber. Ms Masingita Shibambu from Matiyani Village, Malamulele in Limpopo, has been selected as Imbongi for this SONA, and will recite her poem in Xitsonga.

9. Where can I watch?

You can catch the live broadcast on SABC Radio, SABC TV, various other news broadcasting channels and Parliament TV (DSTV Channel 408). It will also be streamed on Parliament’s YouTube channel

The Week Ahead: MPs get stuck into 2020

It's still early days but Parliament is slowly coming back to life after a long summer break.

The legislature has planned a broad programme this week after a low-key start.

With no sittings scheduled in the main chambers, the Committee corridor will be the main source of parliamentary action.

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Away from Plein Street, several Committees have arranged visits to projects and facilities across the country. Oversight visits provide Committees with an opportunity to assess progress made and test the authenticity of the information provided by government entities. In keeping with this oversight mandate, the Portfolio Committees on Basic Education; Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation; Trade and Industry and Higher Education, Science and Technology will be travelling to various parts of the country.

Elsewhere, the Portfolio Committee on Health will embark on the penultimate leg of public hearings on the NHI Bill in the Western Cape. Participants agree that the health sector is dysfunctional but disagree on whether the NHI is the correct mechanism to fix this. You can track the processing of the NHI bill through Parliament here

MPs will get an update on the outbreak of diseases of economic importance (e.g. foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease, African swine fever, brucelosis, Anthrax, etc.) including interventions to control and prevent them; as well as the status of other diseases that impact the agricultural sector in South Africa (e.g. citrus black spot, fall armyworm, avian influenza etc) (Tuesday)

Lawmakers will have a meeting with the Auditor-General on the performance audit of the immigration process for undocumented immigrants at the Department of Home Affairs. (Tuesday)

The Department of Public Works will brief SCOPA on plans to address its ESKOM debt. The Department contributed the lion’s share of debt (R3.1b of R3.5b) owed by national departments to municipalities for services rendered. At the end of last year, SCOPA resolved that all departments with outstanding debt will be instructed to submit payment plans by February 2020. (Tuesday)

The Broadcast Digital Migration (BDM) policy will be in the spotlight as MPs get an update on its implementation. (Tuesday)

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) will brief MPs on its 2018/19 Annual report and mandate. The entity’s recent decision to provide R3.5bn in emergency funding to SAA is expected to be one of the major talking points in the meeting. (Tuesday)

The Ad Hoc Committee established to amend section 25 of the Constitution will finalise its provincial public hearings programme. At last week’s meeting, the proposed dates and venues were a sticking point. (Tuesday) You can track the processing of the Bill through Parliament here.

The joint Finance and Appropriation Committees have established a subcommittee to deal with the appointment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) Director. The subcommittee will compile a shortlist of candidates to be interviewed for the post. The main objective of the PBO is to provide objective and professional advice to Parliament on matters related to the budget and other money bills. (Tuesday)

SCOPA will have a follow-up meeting with PRASA regarding the financial management and regression of the entity. The entity had regressed from an unqualified audit with findings in 2015/16, to a qualified audit in 2016/17 and 2017/18, followed by a disclaimer in 2018/19. The Auditor-General (AG) had highlighted that 11 material findings led to the disclaimer and these included: Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE); change in accountancy policy; fare revenue; risk management; irregular expenditure; fruitless and wasteful expenditure; cash flow statements, amongst others. Part of the Committee’s mandate was to oversee the prevention of further regression and collapse of the financial management of the entity.(Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has arranged a follow-up meeting with the Department’s CFO on the circumstances that led to the recurring Auditor General’s audit outcomes. (Wednesday)

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence will receive a briefing on the Database, Skills Audit and the Military Veterans Act Amendments. (Thursday)

The National Assembly Programming Committee will discuss the draft parliamentary programme for the year. (Thursday)

There are currently 32 Bills (including the draft section 25 Bill) before Parliament. In between, Committees will be focusing on five Bills this week: National Health Insurance Bill, Border Management Authority Bill, Customary Initiation Bill, Local Government Municipal Structures Amendment Bill and Cybercrimes Bill.

View the full schedule 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

MPs Guide to Running a Constituency Office

This piece is geared toward political parties, Members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Legislatures and other public representatives - constituency offices are crucial to the democratic fabric of South Africa. Even though we make use of a Proportional Representation electoral system, public representatives are obligated to interact with and assist all citizens.

Check out the guide we've put together highlighting some areas public representatives need to consider in the running of their all-important constituency offices

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Everything You Need to Know About Constituency Offices

Many are unaware of the fact that even though South Africa makes use of a Proportional Representation electoral system, meaning that our elected representatives (Members of Parliament) are not elected from geographic areas in the way Ward Councillors are in Local Government elections, MPs remain duty-bound to interact with the public. One way in which this interaction is carried out is through Constituency Offices.

People's Assembly aims to connect the public and their elected representatives. We've put together a piece explaining constituency offices in more detail and how People's Assembly makes it easier to access your MPs and constituency offices!

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