/ 16 March 2020

Gatherings of 100 banned but Parliament will sit to pass budget

February 26 2020 Budget Media Briefing Parliament, Cape Town. Photo By David Harrison
Despite gatherings of over 100 people being banned, parliament will sit to pass budget. (David Harrison/M&G)

The National Assembly will only sit once this week to vote and adopt, among other matters, the national budget as a measure against the spread of Covid-19.

On Sunday evening President Cyril Ramaphosa announced decisions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including barring gatherings of more than 100 people. 

In consultation with political parties, Parliament decided to cancel Tuesday’s National Assembly plenary.

The National Assembly has 400 members, not counting other staff members and security guards. The National Council of Provinces has 90 members, as well as dozens of employees and officials who are based at the chamber.

Under the national disaster regulations, these two houses would not be able to meet. 

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Division of Revenue Bill is a critical legislative tool used to allocate funds to the national, provincial and local levels of government and its agencies. 

Although the National Assembly’s work will be limited to Wednesday, parliamentary committees will continue, Parliament said.

For now, smaller gatherings of about a few dozen MPs, parliamentary staff, invited government departments and journalists will continue. 

“A special meeting between the presiding officers of Parliament and the whippery will take place on Tuesday, 17 March to consider the way forward in light of the president’s announcement. A comprehensive announcement regarding the programme of both houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, will be made after the Tuesday meeting,” Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.