POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Parliament a hive of activity as it wraps up fifth term
The National Assembly concludes a turbulent five years as committees finalise their legacy reports
The National Assembly only has three more days to wrap up its work before ending its fifth term on Wednesday when MPs deliver their farewell speeches after a turbulent five years of often rowdy politicking.
Committees will be finalising their legacy reports to hand over to their successors in the sixth parliament, and outstanding bills will be presented to the assembly for debate. MPs will then depart for their constituencies and electioneering will get into full swing.
The Zondo commission of inquiry will sit on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week.
The Treasury is expected to provide details on the SABC’s funding sometime during the week.
The highlight of the week in parliament is Tuesday’s joint meeting of the finance, public accounts, trade & industry, and public service & administration committees on matters related to Steinhoff International. Steinhoff chair Heather Sonn and CEO Louis du Preez are expected to brief the committee on the latest developments in the group, which hit the skids in December 2017 when former CEO Markus Jooste resigned and the group announced that accounting irregularities would be investigated.
The group published a summary of the forensic investigation that was done by PwC over the past 14 months. It found that a small group of Steinhoff executives, who were not named, and some people external to the group created fictitious structures and deals that inflated the group’s profits by more than €6.5bn (R106bn) between 2009 and 2017.
The Hawks, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and the Companies & Intellectual Property Commission are also expected to give MPs an update into their respective investigations into the alleged irregularities.
The police committee will get a briefing from the SA Police Service on its preparations for the May 8 general election.
Also on Tuesday, the National Council of Provinces select committee on finance will adopt draft committee reports on the Carbon Tax Bill; Customs and Excise Amendment Bill; and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Amendment Bill. The committee’s position on the PIC bill is of particular interest given the attempt by finance minister Tito Mboweni to delay it until after the commission of inquiry under retired judge Lex Mpati has submitted its report and recommendations. If the National Council of Provinces does not adopt the bill before it rises on March 28 then it will lapse and it will be up to the next parliament to resuscitate it.
The joint standing committee on intelligence will hold a closed meeting on Tuesday when it is expected to discuss the high-level panel report into abuses at the State Security Agency. However, much of the work on the recommendations is likely to be left to the next parliament by means of a legacy report.
On Wednesday there will be a joint meeting between the finance, trade & industry, and mineral resources committees on illicit financial flows. The SA Revenue Service, Treasury and the Financial Intelligence Centre are expected to brief MPs on what they are doing to stem the outflow, which is estimated at billions of rand annually and is a source of concern given the fiscal constraints in which government finds itself.
Also on Wednesday the international relations & co-operation committee will be briefed by the department on the political developments in Venezuela and SA’s contribution to a peaceful resolution of the challenges in that country. MPs will also be briefed on the political developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the presidential elections.
Thursday is Human Rights Day, which the government will mark by an event in Sharpeville to be addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Political parties’ election campaigns are already in full swing. The top six of the ANC will be active in Gauteng during the week, while DA leader Mmusi Maimane will be campaigning in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Free State and on Human Rights Day will be leading a protest march in Johannesburg about the closure of job centres by the government.