Cyril Ramaphosa SONA 2020

Photo: Siyabulela Duda

South African Parliament: President faces tough questions this week

Ramaphosa will face questions in the National Council of Provinces.

Cyril Ramaphosa SONA 2020

Photo: Siyabulela Duda

Parliament is back in session this week and an action packed few days lie ahead.

Mostly, parliamentarians will be on oversight duty with government departments and their related entities on the red carpet explaining how they are using taxpayers’ money. These processes are required for the departments and entities to receive their budgets.

National Council of Provinces to grill President Ramaphosa

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will face questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Opposition MPs are sure to quiz him on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s U-turn on economic policy, as well as on the financing of his CR17 internal ANC election campaign, and on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s findings on diverse issues, from that CR17 campaign financing issue to the SARS rogue unit.

On Tuesday, there are no less than 25 portfolio committees meeting, of which four should be particularly riveting. The Home affairs committee will question the IEC at a time when the three largest opposition parties (DA, EFF and IFP) are very unhappy with how the 2019 elections were conducted. Expect some very uncomfortable questions for those commissioners on double voting and why the indelible ink was not indelible at all.

SAHRC answers to justice portfolio committee

Underperforming water boards from across the country will be explaining their recovery plans to the portfolio committee on water and sanitation, while the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which is in a pickle about its allegedly biased handling of the Eben Etzebeth ‘Wolf Pack’ controversy at Langebaan, will face tough questioning in the justice portfolio committee.

The NCOP security and justice committee will square up on the Traditional Courts Bill, which is controversial because of its perceived undermining of women’s rights.

On Wednesday, the 26 oversight meetings have amongst them seven which are contenders for headline status.

The Ingonyama Trust, which has been drawing a lot of fire in the land debate about how it controls Zulu tribal land, will find the spotlight firmly on its usually chaotic financial affairs when it appears before the agriculture and land reform committee, while the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) will have to deal with South Africa’s biggest current budget headache, Eskom.

The police committee will have the police’s dysfunctional crime intelligence division before it, while the energy portfolio committee will deal with PetroSA, the entity which had held the record for the biggest annual loss before Eskom overtook it in this particular race to the bottom.

SARS ‘Rogue Unit’ back under the microscope

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB), which determines the boundaries of municipalities and wards is explaining itself to the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, whilst provincial health departments are appearing before the portfolio committee on health. Perhaps the most controversial appearance before an oversight committee this week will be the SA Revenue Service (SARS), which is appearing before the finance portfolio committee and would have to explain both its alleged rogue unit and, surely more importantly, their inability to reach their tax collection targets.

In addition to the questions to the president, much focus on Tuesday will be on the portfolio committee on basic education, which will have to ensure that the education department is logistically ready to conduct the annual matric examinations fairly and smoothly.

So, much to look forward to and much to keep tabs on – another fascinating week in the South African parliament.