ANC PARLIAMENTARY CAUCUS MID-YEAR STATEMENT
The National Assembly will as from tomorrow break for an extended constituency period after a very fruitful first and second quarter of the fifth parliament.
The first half of this year in Parliament has been nothing but extraordinary. We began our parliamentary year with a historical political transition which led to the election of President Cyril Ramaphosa as the fifth democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa. The election of President Ramaphosa ushered in a new dawn which has brought about a renewed commitment to better serve the people of South Africa.
This year has also been a time for great sadness for the ANC Parliamentary Caucus. We lost three very dedicated and formidable female leaders of our Caucus. Comrade Fezeka Loliwe passed on in the line of duty doing constituency work in Fort Beaufort, in the Eastern Cape; whilst Cde’s Beatrice Ngcobo and Mam’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela succumbed to illness. We also lost a former member of Caucus, comrade Zola Skweyiya in April.
Since 2014, the ANC Parliamentary Caucus has lost a total of 10 members, namely, comrade Timothy Khoza (2017); comrade Trevor Bonhomme (2017); comrade Bonisile Nesi (2016);
comrade Raesibe Nyalungu (2016); comrade Hlakudi Frans Nkoana (2015); comrade Nosipho Ntwanambi (2014) and Yolanda Botha (2014). The contributions of these comrades in the struggle against apartheid and their service to the people of South Africa will forever remain in our hearts.
This year the National Assembly passed a historic resolution that the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) of Parliament, reviews Section 25 of the Constitution and other clauses where necessary, to sufficiently cater for the principle of land expropriation without compensation. This resolution, informed by the resolution of the 54th National Conference of the ANC is a bold step towards addressing the original sin of land dispossession and landlessness. The CRC recently held a colloquium engaging stakeholders on the matter.
We encourage members of the public to make submissions to this committee before the closing date which is tomorrow, 15 June. The CRC will thereafter conduct public hearings in all nine provinces from 27 June to 4 August and report back to Parliament in September.
2. An Activist Parliament Through Enhanced Oversight
The realisation of the ANC's policy to radically improve the material conditions of our people require an activist parliament which conducts parliamentary oversight in a vigorous robust manner without fear or favour. This was demonstrated through various members of the executive being called to account to Parliament on matters of national importance and public interest.
The Eskom Inquiry conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises exposed the poor state of corporate governance at our power utility. This inquiry, which conducted proceedings well into early hours of the following morning, is an example of parliamentary oversight at its zenith. We thank ANC members of parliament for leading the charge and remaining unrepentant against maladministration and intimidation. The uncovering of malfeasance at Eskom has resulted in the appointment of a new board and senior executives who are steering the entity in a new direction.
This would not have been possible had it not been for the vociferous nature in which the committee engaged with the matter, and for that we salute members of that committee. We eagerly await the adoption of this report by the National Assembly plenary when we return in the third quarter of the year.
Following Cabinet’s decision to put all provincial departments and certain municipalities under administration in the North West Province, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is currently ceased with ratifying that decision, and to this end, an Ad Hoc Committee has been formed. The Ad Hoc Committee received its first briefing from the Inter-Ministerial Committee in Parliament today. The NCOP also held a report back session in April to report on progress made since its provincial visit to the Eastern Cape last year. The next report back session is scheduled for August in the Free State.
The ANC has recently undergone a process of filling of vacancies and further strengthening our oversight work through the deployment and redeployment of various comrades to serve as Committee Chairperson and Whips of ANC Study Groups (made up of ANC MPs in portfolio committees). We have no doubt that our newly reconfigured structures of Caucus will successfully lead us to the end of this fifth democratic Parliament.
3. Holding the Executive Accountable
As an oversight mechanism, the rules of Parliament dictate that the Executive must appear before Parliament to answer oral questions. President Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza made 6 appearances in both houses of parliament to reply to 36 oral questions. Ministers and Deputy Ministers replied to 199 oral questions in the National Assembly and NCOP.
Both houses of Parliament submitted a total 2316 written questions to the Executive, of which 2143 were replied to, with the outstanding 173 questions standing over until parliament resumes. This is a whopping 92.5% accountability rate of the Executive to Parliament.
Parliament also interrogated ministers on their departmental budget votes in mini-plenary sessions held in the National Assembly and Policy Debates in the NCOP. These gruelling sessions were characterised by robust engagement between parliamentarians and members of the Executive. The National Assembly successfully passed the Appropriations Bill-2018 at the end of May with the NCOP currently interacting with the Bill scheduled for adoption at the end of June.
We comment the Executive for the commitment they have shown in accounting to Parliament and equally commend parliamentarians for ensuring that the Executive is held accountable.
4. Legislative Work
As part of its law-making function, parliament processed 13 Bills in the National Assembly since February this year. This includes the Division of Revenue Bill which provides for the equitable division of revenue raised nationally among the national, provincial and local spheres of government for the 2018/19 ﬁnancial year.
Among other pieces of legislation processed this year, three historic Bills stand out, namely the Political Party Funding Bill, the Public Audit Amendment Bill and the National Minimum Wage Bill.
For the first time since the advent of democracy, the Political Party Funding Bill obliges political parties to be transparent about their sources of funding. The Bill also limits the amount individuals or entities can donate to any one political party and outlaws all donations from foreign donors, governments and their agencies. The Bill will also ensure that political parties are adequately funded in a predictable and transparent manner.
Another ground-breaking legislation passed this year is the Public Audit Amendment Bill. This Bill empowers the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) to act against accounting officers who are found to have acted contrary to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and other pieces of legislation through overspending, fraud and corruption from the public purse.
Informed by the Freedom Charter, the ANC’s 2014 Elections Manifesto pledged to introduce a National Minimum Wage to lift millions of workers out of slave wage exploitation. In its last sitting of the second quarter of the year in May, the National Assembly adopted the National Minimum Wage Bill which legislates a wage floor of R20 per hour or R3500 per month under which no worker should be paid. The National Minimum Wage is a historic step towards our mission of a living wage for all workers in South Africa.
5. International Engagements
As part of the ANCs commitment to the development of the African Continent and international work, the ANC deployed comrade Thandi Modise, comrade Thoko Didiza and comrade iNkosi Zwelivelile Mandela to represent the RSA Parliament at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). Led by comrade Thandi Modise as the leader of the delegation, our RSA delegation was sworn in and participated in the sixth ordinary session of the PAP in May 2018.
Among the various other international trips undergone by various structures of parliament in the first half of the year, the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans together with the Joint Standing Committee on Defence conducted a successful joint oversight visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in April. The purpose of the oversight visit was for the two committees to interact with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) peacekeepers in a foreign deployment area.
Our Parliament was also represented by a delegation led by the Speaker at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva in March. We are currently preparing for the 49th Annual Africa Region Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) scheduled to take place in Botswana in August.
6. Constituency Work
The adopted framework of the parliamentary programme for 2018 extends the upcoming constituency period for the National Assembly by an extra three weeks (from 18 June to 13 August) as compared to the previous year. This extension means that parliamentarians will spend 33% of their overall parliamentary programme conducting constituency work. This move brings us closer to the attainment of a 50/50% balance between parliamentary sessions and parliamentary constituency work.
This decision takes forward the 2016 ANC Midterm Review Caucus Lekgotla resolution which stated that Parliament as an institution should revisit its programming in relation to the disproportionate time MPs spend in Parliament as opposed to the time they spend in their constituencies. The unintended consequence of this format is that a gap between MPs and their constituencies is created, which does not bode well for accountability.
This extension will therefore allow MPs sufficient time to meaningfully engage with; and instantly intervene in matters afflicting our people as elected public representatives.
The work of the ANC in this constituency period will be informed by the call made by the President of the ANC and Republic, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, through the Thuma Mina (Send Me) campaign for all South Africans to lend a hand in improving the lives of others. Members of the ANC Caucus will therefore be rooted in their constituencies engaging and intervening in matters affecting ordinary South Africa in their communities.
We have been able to achieve all of the above within this reporting because of parliamentary political management structures such as the Chief Whip’s Forum and the National Assembly Programming Committee. We express our appreciation for the support we have received from Chief Whips of other parties in ensuring a working parliament in the interest of our democracy.
We also express our appreciation for the support we have received from the Whips of the ANC and all ANC Members of Parliament in the ANC Parliamentary Caucus. We further thank our ANC Parliamentary Caucus staff for their unwavering support and commitment in helping to advance the work of the ANC in Parliament.
We wish the Muslim community a festive Eid Mubarak as they celebrate Eid from this evening.
Statement issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, comrade Jackson Mthembu, 14 June 2018