When Parliament resumes its work within the next few weeks, it will have to carry on where it left off in 2017, but there will also be a few new matters on the horizon.
Here are some of the affairs that will captivate Parliament-watchers this year.
Election of a caretaker president?
Since the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the ANC at Nasrec Expo Centre, Johannesburg, last month, it has been mooted that President Jacob Zuma will either resign or that he will be removed by the National Assembly through a motion of no confidence, or even a so-called impeachment motion.
Thus, on February 8 Zuma might well be delivering his last state of the nation address.
If Zuma resigns or is removed, the National Assembly will have to appoint a new president.
Parliament’s rules committee will also look at the procedures to be followed to remove the president in terms of section 89 of the Constitution, also called impeachment, on Wednesday and Thursday.
State Owned Enterprises
The parliamentary inquiry into corruption at state-owned companies delivered some of the most compelling parliamentary proceedings last year, and it is expected to continue in this vein early in the new year when the committee will resume its work. It is expected that Zuma and the Guptas, and others implicated in the earlier hearings, will be called to testify.
Intrigue within the police service
The Portfolio Committee on Police had to grapple with in-fighting at the top structure of the police, notably in the crime intelligence unit. Even though the police’s leadership has been stabilised, much of these issues are still unresolved and the committee – one of Parliament’s more diligent committees – will surely want to stay abreast of developments.
Then the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) – arguably Parliament’s most aggressive practitioner of oversight – took an interest in allegations of corruption in the police’s procurement process, leading to one of the strangest committee meetings of the year. This issue is also far from resolved and Scopa is not known for letting go.
The long-mooted media appeals tribunal might finally find its way onto Parliament’s agenda in 2018. At the ANC conference in December, the governing party resolved that its “parliamentarians must have enquired whether a media appeals tribunal is feasible”.
The Portfolio Committee on Communications had a busy 2017, much of its time being taken up by matters relating to the SABC. This trend is set to continue, but the committee also decided at the end of last year that one of the first things it will deal with this year is the embattled Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).
Land expropriation without compensation
This matter was discussed in Parliament last year when the EFF brought a motion to amend the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation. The ANC voted against it and was admonished by Zuma about it. Then in Nasrec last month, the ANC conference resolved to investigate the matter of expropriation without compensation.
While this resolution didn’t set out concrete steps of how such a policy would be implemented, it is expected that this issue will rear its head often in Parliament, as the EFF will surely raise the matter at the first opportunity
Higher education funding
Since the student uprising of 2015 this matter has been an issue the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training kept an eye on, but since Zuma’s announcement last month of fee-free education for students from low-income households last month, the question has remained where the money for this will come from.
This will be answered on February 21 when Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will deliver his first budget address to the National Assembly. This will surely not be the end of it. — News24