NCOP PASSED THE CYBERCRIMES BILL, CIVIL UNION AND THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY LAWS AMENDMENT BILLS

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) at its sitting on Wednesday morning passed three Bills, the Cybercrimes Bill, The Civil Union Amendment Bill and the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill.

DearSA-cybercrime

The Cybercrimes Bill was initially introduced as the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill in 2017. It was referred to the fifth democratic Parliament’s Select Committee on Security and Justice from the National Assembly on 27 November 2018. The Bill was thoroughly advertised for public participation in 2019, where substantive inputs were provided by various stakeholders and individuals. However, it lapsed at the end of the fifth Parliament and it is among the Bills that were revived by the NCOP through a resolution on 17 October 2019.

The objectives of the Bill are, among others, to create offences and impose penalties which have a bearing on cybercrime, to criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders, and to further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes.

The Bill further aims to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes, to further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes and to provide for the establishment of a 24/7 Point of Contact. The Bill also impose obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions to assist in the investigation of cybercrimes. It also provides that that the executive may enter into agreements with foreign states to promote cybersecurity.

The NCOP also passed the Civil Union Bill, which was referred to the Select Committee on Security after its revival in 2019. The purpose of the Civil Union Bill is to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act of 2006 which allows a marriage officer to inform the Minister that he or she objects on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex.

During the vigorous processing of the Bill, the Select Committee received extensive submissions – a total of 325 submissions from organisations and individuals either in favour or against the amendment Bill. The Committee also considered Section 195 (1) of the Constitution which provides that public administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including in subsection (d) that services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.

The Committee noted further that Section 197(3) of the Constitution provides that no employee of the public service may be favoured or prejudiced only because that person supports a particular political party or cause. The Committee agreed that the repeal of Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, 2006 was important in advancing equality and upholding the Constitutional rights afforded to persons entering into same sex unions.

The Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill was also passed by the sitting of the House. The Bill seeks to amend the Scientific Research Council Act of 1988, the Academy of Science of South Africa Act of 2001, the Human Sciences Research Council Act of 2008, the Technology Innovation Agency Act of 2008, and the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008, so as to harmonise the processes for the termination of the membership of Boards or Councils of the entities established by these Acts.

The Bills will be sent to the President for assent.

ISSUED BY PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA 

AA calls on Minister to extend licence renewal period

licence card - DearSA

By the Automobile Association of South Africa

The Automobile Association (AA) has called on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the validity of all licences beyond the 30 August deadline, or face a situation where many thousands of motorists do not have the necessary legal driving documents.

In a letter to the Minister’s office on Monday (attached hereto), AA CEO Willem Groenewald notes that the current extension period only covers those driving licences which expired before the end of May.

“Any licences which expire in June or July may have an immediate 21-day grace period, but there are problems which make it difficult for these drivers to renew licences within that time,” Mr Groenewald writes.

He says the current National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) continues to be problematic, including the lack, or limited availability, of slots. He also notes that some centres may still be closed as a result of COVID-19 infections among staff.

“Our experience is that the majority of drivers in South Africa prefer to remain compliant with the regulations, and to be on the road legally. Although the system is often problematic, drivers take the necessary steps to ensure they remain within the law. However, given the current constraints on the system, many are faced with the real possibility that they may not be able to do this,” Mr Groenewald says.

The AA has called for a further extension beyond the end of August to the end of January 2021, which it says it a more feasible option.

According to Mr Groenewald, “This extension also makes provision for the closure of DLTCs over the festive period, and for further potential closures as a result of COVID-19”.

As an alternative to an extension, the AA has also urged the Minister to consider allowing third party agents – such as the AA – to perform licensing renewal services which are currently only offered through the DLTCs.

“Not only will this go a long way in dealing with the current and historical backlogs it will also alleviate the pressure on the DLTC infrastructure going forward,” concludes Mr Groenewald.

The AA’s letter:

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AGRICULTURE AND LAND COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE PROCESSING ULTRA BILL

DearSA Parliamentary media release

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (National Assembly) on Friday was briefed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment (ULTRA) Bill [B6-2020].

The ULTRA Bill seeks to address the unfair discrimination of women based on their gender to their right of tenure as found in the case of the Rahube matter, where the deed of grant was tested as it applied to only males. In the Rahube matter it was an automatic transfer to the male.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development must study the clauses and provisions in the principal Act that may render the legislation unconstitutional, and furthermore, the department must also look at other Bills and Acts such as the Communal Land Rights Act and others, which will affect the ULTRA Bill, and devise a comprehensive legislative framework to engage with the Bill.

Notwithstanding this, the committee notes the Constitutional Court ruling to have the Bill finalised by April 2021, and therefore will proceed to provide the public with opportunities for submitting their views on the Bill in writing and other means amidst the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that public participation is sought on the ULTRA Bill.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, NKOSI ZWELIVELILE MANDELA.

Government chokes on Batsa’s urgent court application

A look at the arguments and evidence it faces. Meanwhile Sars’s tobacco tax revenues continue to go up in smoke …

Original article from Barbara CursonMoneyWeb

BATSA

The urgent application brought by British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) to have the ban on the sale of tobacco products set aside has been delayed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for some six weeks because of “scheduling complications”.

Perhaps the president and the minister lost their eagerness to be heard in court when they received Batsa’s replying affidavit and realised what they were up against.

After all, they would be required to come up with evidence to support all aspects of the tobacco ban, including how decisions were made.

It is questionable whether they had even gone through Batsa’s founding affidavit and the some 500 accompanying pages of documents that were submitted on May 20.

Inexplicable

Batsa has described the decision to delay this urgent application to lift the tobacco sales ban as “inexplicable” and “worrying”.

Taxpayers should also be concerned, as they will be required to cough up the difference.

But perhaps the most concerned should be the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) members, as they are the ultimate passive sitting ducks.

As for the South African Revenue Service (Sars), it is going deeper into the red, and it’s unlikely it will be receiving any taxes from the illicit tobacco dealers. Sars, unsurprisingly, declined to comment as: “The matter you are enquiring about is before the court … ”

Batsa claims that this six-week delay will cost South Africa more than R1.4 billion in excise taxes alone, and thousands of jobs.

“This delaying of justice and a resolution of this issue is inexplicable. By the time the case is heard the ban will have been in place for four and half months during which time billions of illegal cigarettes will have been sold,” said Johnny Moloto of Batsa.

The applicants in Batsa’s matter (the application) cover the entire value chain for tobacco and vaping products, including agricultural, manufacturing, retail and consumer sectors. This application is also made in the interests of a group of persons who are not in a position to litigate in their own interests (per section 38(c) of the Constitution), as well as in the public interest (per section 38(e) of the Constitution).

The purpose of the application is to set aside Regulation 45, which prohibits the sale of tobacco and vaping products during Alert Level 3 as it violates a series of fundamental rights, and is thus unconstitutional. Further, the regulation is irregular in terms of the principles of administrative law.

Even vaping products that do not contain tobacco are restricted in the same way as tobacco products.

Timeline marked by no response, no reply

Prior to the commencement of lockdown on March 26, the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC) announced that a limited range of goods would be available for sale during the lockdown period. Batsa wrote to the Minister of Small Development and the Minister of Finance on March 24 requesting that tobacco products be included in the list of basic goods that can be manufactured and sold during the lockdown. Batsa also wrote to the DTIC on March 25 following the publication of the amended regulations. No replies were received to these letters.

There were divergent opinions between the Western Cape Provincial Government and DTIC on whether tobacco products could be sold. On April 23, the president addressed the nation to give an update on the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He announced that cigarettes could be sold from May 1, “when the country moves to Level 4 … ”

A draft framework for all five alert levels, called The Risk Adjusted Strategy was published on April 20. Alert Level 4 included tobacco products as goods that could be sold.

The Risk Adjusted Strategy called for public comment.

Hence, Batsa submitted a written representations expressing gratitude that tobacco products could be sold, and added that Alert Level 4 would allow the harvesting, processing, manufacturing and sale of tobacco products, and also cited a range of factors to support the lifting of the prohibition. Batsa also commented that there was insufficient evidence on the impact of smoking and vaping on Covid-19. No reply was received.

Meanwhile, Batsa’s operations immediately went into action, and between April 29 and May 4, orders to the value of R293 million were captured.

“In an extremely volte-face”, the minister announced on April 29 that the prohibition of the sale of tobacco and vaping products would continue.

In an attempt to embark on an engagement process, Batsa addressed further submissions to the president. No reply was received.

Batsa CEO Andre Joubert, in the founding affidavit: “The continued prohibition on the sale of tobacco and vaping products causes harm not only to individual consumers, but also to Batsa, the tobacco industry and the fiscus.”

Arguments and evidence to be led in court

These include:

Evidence on the impact on consumers:

  • An affidavit deposed by Dr Chris Proctor on the harm caused by the prohibition to the emotional well-being on consumers of tobacco and other products. Countries such as Italy, France, Switzerland and Spain have classified outlets that sell tobacco products as essential during lockdown.
  • A research report compiled by an independent research body, which estimates that 90% of smokers will continue to purchase cigarettes during lockdown.

The impact on the tobacco industry:

  • There are over 200 commercial tobacco farmers, and 150 emerging tobacco farmers in South Africa. These farmers provide approximately 8 000 jobs. The dependents are estimated to number more than 30 000, primarily in rural areas. Tobacco farmers are also excluded from the R1.2 billion disaster fund made available to assist South African farmers.
  • Batsa’s total revenue loss exceeds R2 billion in a nine-week period.

Regulation 45 is unconstitutional and amounts to an arbitrary deprivation of property:

  • It is an unjustifiable limitation on the rights of farmers and tobacconists to choose their trade, it constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of the property rights of participants in the tobacco and vaping supply chain, and it amounts to an unconstitutional infringement of the rights of consumers.
  • The recently harvested tobacco crop will go to waste, while tobacco farms, manufacturers and wholesalers cannot make productive use of their facilities.
  • Section 22 of the Constitution protects one’s right to choose and practice a trade, occupation and profession.

Administrative action:

  • The making of regulations constitutes “administrative action” within the meaning of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (Paja). It must also comply with the principles of legality.
  • The minister will have to show that, in making the regulations, she complied with Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act; that the minister has the power to make regulations “after consulting with the responsible cabinet member”. For example, does a collective decision of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) fall within the ambit of this section, or did the minister unlawfully abdicate to the NCCC a power that is vested in her?

Section 27 of the act:

  • This section provides that the minister may make regulations regarding the “sale, dispensing or transportation of alcoholic beverages in the disaster stricken or threatened area”, but not of other goods, such as tobacco or vaping products.
  • “Prohibiting the sale of those products must be rational, reasonable and not motivated by unlawful purpose, whether in terms of Paja or in terms of the principle of legality.”

Regulation 45 inflicts harm on consumers and on participants in the tobacco/vaping supply chain:

  • Is this harm necessary to avoid a greater harm that would occur if tobacco and vaping products were to be sold?
  • The minister had concern about the sharing of cigarettes; however, illicit cigarettes will continue to be shared.
  • Even if smoking increases the risk of contracting Covid-19 or exacerbates the severity of the disease (which Batsa does not accept), any adverse consequences of smoking would not be reversed by not smoking during the lockdown.
  • The minister should have given Batsa and other interested parties an opportunity to comment on the scientific studies that she relied on.

Procedural fairness:

  • The tobacco industry and the consumers of tobacco and vaping products have never been invited to comment, or to make submissions, notwithstanding the fact that the only items that cannot be sold under Alert Level 3 are tobacco and vaping products.
  • As a comparison, the liquor industry was given an opportunity to engage.

Various scientific studies and research papers have been submitted on the relationship between smoking and Covid-19.

Loss of tax revenue

The total loss of revenue of all the parties involved in the tobacco industry (farmers, manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers, commission earners, employees), and hence, the loss in tax revenue, is incalculable.

For Batsa alone, every week of no sales results in approximately R350 million of revenue lost. Batsa estimates that in relation to Batsa alone, Sars would lose Vat of about R50 million per week, and excise duty losses of about R214 million per week.

The illicit cigarette trade is booming, and it will be difficult to stamp this out. It is to be noted that Sars recently discontinued the tender process for the track and trace system.

UIF SHOULD FIX SYSTEM

DearSA Parliamentary media release

UIF SHOULD FIX SYSTEM THAT MAKES IT VULNERABLE TO FRAUD – SCOPA

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has told the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to fix the shortcomings in the information technology system they are using for the disbursement of funds during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

The shortcomings of the system have made the UIF vulnerable to fraud and corruption from employees and employers who have made false claims amounting to millions of rands. The committee has asked the UIF to submit a detailed plan on its migration to a better system that will avoid such loopholes that open it up to fraud.

Scopa has also asked the fund to submit a detailed report on the 16 cases where there were overpayments and erroneous payments. The committee hopes that those that are found to be involved in the fraudulent payments will face consequences. The committee is aware that the Hawks are investigating the R5.7 million paid into an incorrect bank account. Scopa has asked the UIF to submit a detailed report on this issue, that it can use as a briefing note, by Wednesday, 1 July 2020.

Scopa welcomes the disbursement of over R25 billion to four million workers who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The committee, however, is concerned over the administrative delays in the processing of some disbursements, which have left almost one million employees in the lurch. Scopa believes that there should be a general overflow of communication between the UIF and the workers.

Scopa is aware that the Auditor-General is conducting a special audit for the Covid-19 pandemic, whose outcomes are expected to be released in August. The Auditor-General will cover ordinarily what Scopa would have focused on. The Auditor-General’s special audit will test their implementation of preventative controls, will detect and audit high-risk items, table special reports in Parliament, and will outline consequence management. Therefore, to avoid the duplication of resources, Scopa will await that process for the outcomes of how the UIF spent funds during this lockdown period.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF SCOPA, MR MKHULEKO HLENGWA.

Consumers to pay for Nersa’s R100 billion mistake

Nersa-Eskom

City Press Antoinette Slabbert

A R100 billion calculation mistake by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) will most likely see consumers dig deeper into their pockets to pay for increased electricity tariffs.

City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, can today reveal that Nersa has withdrawn its opposition and conceded to making mistakes in calculations of tariffs to two court applications brought by power utility Eskom.

Nersa confirmed that it failed to comply with the procedural requirements when making four of its decisions regarding Eskom’s electricity tariffs. A third application has already been decided in favour of Eskom.

Eskom may now have to be compensated for Nersa’s mistakes – money that would come from consumers’ pockets.

During a virtual court hearing on Wednesday, Eskom asked for tariffs to be increased by 15% next year, instead of the 5.22% that Nersa had previously approved.

If the court accepts Eskom’s proposal, electricity tariffs will increase at five times the inflation rate – this will happen at the same time as the country most likely goes into recession after years of poor economic growth, which is being compounded by the financial damage caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Massive electricity tariff increases to compensate for the mistake would hit consumers hard and could lead some to seek alternative sources of power, something Eskom would not want to see happen.

Government had to come in and grant a bailout amounting to billions of rands to the power utility, which is in a dire financial situation due to insufficient revenue generation from electricity sales to pay off its debt of nearly R450 billion.

But before a decision is made by the courts, Nersa has asked Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane to refer the matter back to the body so that it can fix the mistakes.

This would give it a chance to apply its specialist knowledge and take factors such as affordability into account, said Myron Dewrance SC, who was arguing on Nersa’s behalf.

Kathree-Setiloane reserved judgment.

Wednesday’s hearing was about the R69 billion that Nersa deducted from Eskom’s approved revenue for 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 – R23 billion every year.

This was the equivalent of the government bailout that was made available to pay Eskom’s debt of about R500 billion, and had the effect of negating the bailout and driving Eskom deeper into financial despair.

The methodology according to which Nersa determines Eskom’s tariffs is strictly prescribed, and Nersa has admitted to failing to comply with the procedural requirements when dealing with the R23 billion per year.

In the second case, which was conceded by Nersa, Eskom took aim at R22 billion in additional income.

This related to three decisions made by Nersa regarding Eskom’s regulatory clearing account (RCA) mechanism, which provides a way for Nersa to adjust Eskom’s revenue for the previous year if the assumptions that they were based on play out contrary to what was expected.

Eskom argues that Nersa’s decisions in respect of the RCA amounts for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 financial years short-changed the parastatal by R22 billion.

Nersa now admits that it made mistakes and the decisions will most likely be referred back to the body to reconsider the correct amount it will allow, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the court.

In the earlier case Nersa lost, its decision about Eskom’s tariffs for 2018/19 was set aside.

The court then afforded Nersa the opportunity to finalise Eskom’s RCA application for that financial year.

If Eskom is still not satisfied with Nersa’s application, it may submit a supplementary application for what it believes it’s still owed.

Last month, Nersa announced that it had approved only R13 billion of the R27 billion Eskom applied for in its RCA application. Rapport understand that Eskom plans to file a supplementary application in which it will ask for about R4 billion.

In addition to these cases, Eskom recently submitted an application to the court to set aside Nersa’s RCA determination for the 2017/18 financial year. In this application, Eskom is challenging an amount of about R14 billion, and Nersa has indicated that it will oppose the matter.

Piet van Staden, former chairperson of the Energy Intensive Users Group, which represents mines and heavy industry, said Eskom was technically correct and it was disappointing that Nersa made mistakes of this nature.

“Nersa focused on the affordability of tariffs and didn’t give Eskom what it needed,” said Van Staden.

But he warns that a 15% price shock next year will simply drive consumers to other sources of energy, which could cause Eskom “to keel over”.

“Eskom cannot just sit back and take what it is technically entitled to if it has the effect of destroying the demand for its product,” said Van Staden.

Economist Mike Schussler said South Africa simply could not afford Eskom any longer, adding that the increases in the electricity tariffs would mean the economy would take a further knock.

He said Eskom’s programme of BEE had had the effect of driving Eskom’s coal costs through the roof. Mines, smelters and shopping centres that have had to reduce rent as a concession to businesses that are battling to stay afloat, as well as ordinary consumers, simply could not afford the rising costs of electricity and water.

The overall debt consumers owe to municipalities for these two services is already at R110 billion, he said.

Investments in factories and other businesses that are intensive electricity users are being cancelled or taken to other countries, said Schussler.

He said the economy would be considerably stronger if consumers did not have to pay for inefficiencies in the water and electricity industries.

To top it all off, electricity provision isn’t even sufficient, with load shedding being a continuous reality.

Nersa would not comment on the risk of consumers having to pay Eskom the R100 billion. Nersa spokesperson Charles Hlebela emphasised that the regulator had asked the court to remit the decision that it conceded to Nersa for redetermination.

“Therefore, we all should wait for the courts’ judgments,” he said.

Mboweni unveils the scale of shattered South African economy

Budget depicts havoc virus has wreaked on South Africa’s economy

By Mike Cohen, Prinesha Naidoo and Amogelang Mbatha [Biz News]

(Bloomberg) — South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered a grim assessment of the nation’s finances in a special adjustment budget that forecast a deep recession and plunging tax revenue.

Gross domestic product is forecast to shrink 7.2% this year, the most in almost nine decades, and the consolidated budget deficit is expected to surge to 15.7%. While gross debt-to-GDP is to peak at 87.4% in four years, investors were cheered by a pledge to cut spending and bring borrowing under control.

“We have accumulated far too much debt; this downturn will add more,” Mboweni said Wednesday in a speech to lawmakers in Cape Town. “Our Herculean task is to stabilize debt.”

Yields on benchmark 10-year government bonds fell as much as 16 basis points to a two-week low. The rand weakened as Mboweni spoke, before erasing most of the decline.

 

Debt Stabilizing

South Africa was already mired in recession and contending with power shortages when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Turnaround efforts were upended when the government imposed a stringent lockdown in late March to try slow the disease’s spread. While some restrictions have since been eased, many businesses have gone bust and widespread job losses are set to worsen a 30.1% unemployment rate.

“The debt level for our sized economy are now at an unsustainable level,” said Isaac Matshego, an economist at Nedbank Group Ltd. “We’ve been there for a couple of years, but now we have really entered red territory. Once we have passed this shock of Covid-19 pandemic, government will really have to show even greater commitment to revising economic growth and reducing its very high level of debt.”

The government cut its revenue projection for the current fiscal year to 1.12 trillion rand ($64.6 billion), from 1.43 trillion rand it estimated in February. An additional 40 billion rand in tax will be raised over the next four years, while spending will be cut by 230 billion rand over the next two years to contain debt. Details will be announced in the 2021 budget speech.

The government intends borrowing $7 billion from international financial institutions, including $4.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The lender and the Treasury are in protracted negotiations and “it’s critical that nothing is done to undermine the national sovereignty” in these talks, Mboweni told reporters after the budget speech.

Some members of the ruling party and labor groups initially opposed plans to approach multi-lateral lenders for help, saying the conditions attached to that could threaten the country’s sovereignty. ANC leadership supports these requests for support and IMF staff will make a submission about South Africa’s funding early in July, Mboweni said.

The government has already secured a $1 billion loan from the New Development Bank and Mboweni said the World Bank support is likely to follow approval of the IMF funding.

Ballooning Deficit

Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at advisory service Intellidex, doesn’t see the Treasury’s goal of stabilizing debt by the 2024 fiscal year as credible.

“You can’t just decide to do these things, you have to take the decisions to achieve that, and this will not be possible,” he said.

The supplementary budget redirected money to programs aimed at containing the fallout from the pandemic, with the health department given an extra 21.5 billion rand to build field hospitals and hire more staff, and 12.6 billion rand to other entities involved in tackling the disease. It also provides 40.9 billion rand to support vulnerable households for six months, 20 billion rand to shore up municipal finances and 12.5 billion rand to education.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s largest labor group and a member of the ruling coalition, said it was “extremely disheartened and disillusioned” by the budget, which was unfit for a country with mass unemployment.

“We are now in danger of entering an economic depression and the scariest thing is that government does not have a plan,” it said in a statement. “This budget only served to remind us that as workers we are on our own and the policy makers have no idea what they are doing.”

What Bloomberg’s Economist Says

“We think the Treasury’s overall outlook is too optimistic, especially the ambitious plans to cut the deficit. By consolidating too soon and too aggressively, the Treasury will undermine the economic recovery and increase the risk of a future debt crisis.”

–Boingotlo Gasealahwe, Africa economist

PRESIDENT ANSWERS QUESTIONS AND NCOP CONSIDERS APPROPRIATION BILL

DearSA Parliamentary media release

PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ANSWERS QUESTIONS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND NCOP CONSIDERS APPROPRIATION BILL

Parliament, Wednesday 17 June 2020 – President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear at the National Assembly hybrid plenary sitting for oral replies to questions from Members of Parliament tomorrow, Thursday, 18 June 2020. This is the President’s first appearance in the National Assembly for oral questions since the declaration of COVID-19 as a national state disaster.

The President’s question and answer session is the only agenda item. Questions for the oral reply to the President are scheduled at least once a quarter during session time within the National Assembly’s annual programme. Up to six questions on matters of national or international importance may be asked during the three-hour session. The three hours are allotted to cover the main questions and associated supplementary questions.

The six questions scheduled for tomorrow’s sitting will cover a range of matters related to the management of the Coronavirus, including among others:

  • what measures has Government put in place to accelerate the recovery of the South African economy amid the effects of COVID;
  • What relevant details of the scientific risk assessment that the Government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) allegedly relied on with regard on the modelling used to predict the number of deaths and the projected number of deaths upon which the President announced the institution of a national hard lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 from 26 March 2020;
  • whether the President’s decision to ease the lockdown from alert level 5 to level 4 and level 3 within a short space of time was informed by scientific evidence;
  • and what would be his policy directives to the Department of Small Business Development and small, medium and micro enterprises that will strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods in achieving the National Development Plan target of creating 9,9 million new jobs which would constitute 90% of all new jobs by 2030?

Holding regular question and answer sessions is one way in which Parliament holds the President and the Executive to account.

DETAILS OF THE HYBRID SITTING ARE AS FOLLOWS: 
Date: Thursday, 18 June 2020
Time: 15.00
Venue: National Assembly Chamber, Parliament and online Platform

To see all the questions to the President please click: QUESTION PAPER

Meanwhile, the other House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces will also hold (hybrid) plenaries to debate and consider the Appropriation Bill on 18 (Thursday at 10 am) and 19 (Friday at 9 am) June 2020.

Members of the public may get involved and follow committee sittings live on Parliament TV (DSTV Channel 408), via live stream on Parliament YouTube channel and Twitter page on the links below. You may subscribe to the Parliament YouTube channel to receive instant notification of live feeds.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ParliamentofRSA
Facebook: https://facebook.com/ParliamentofRSA
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/ParliamentofRSA

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES

SA Lockdown: Cele wants another ban on alcohol

JOHANNESBURG – Police Minister Bheki Cele says there is sufficient evidence to warrant the banning of alcohol sales once more.

Cele made the comment during a visit to the families of two Durban Metro police officers who were ambushed and shot dead on Tuesday.

The officers were on their way to work in Hammersdale outside the city.

“I have said it all the time that if I were given the opportunity to run and decide alone on this matter, then my first prize would be to ban the alcohol because I believe there is a lot of evidence that it is not doing good,” he said

The Police Minister added that crime levels have increased since the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted.

Cele says he hopes the National Coronavirus Command Council will do the right thing.

Article by ENCA

Ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to be re-established

  • The National Assembly will re-establish an ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.
  • This after the previous ad hoc committee was allowed to lapse before it finished its work because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The new ad hoc committee’s deadline will be set later, but the end of this year has been mooted. 

The National Assembly will again establish an ad hoc committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

Two weeks ago, all parties at the National Assembly Programming agreed to let the ad hoc committee amending Section 25 lapse.

The committee had a deadline to finish its work by the end of May.

It was in the midst of an expansive public participation process when the coronavirus reached South Africa and social distancing measures were put in place to prevent its spread.

Hence, the committee could not continue with public meetings, which generally attracted groups of more than 50 people.

At last week’s meeting of the programming committee, opposition MPs said they were surprised when the ANC proposed re-establishing the committee at the previous day’s meeting of the Chief Whips’ Forum.

READ | Amending Section 25 of the Constitution: Five questions answered

The ANC proposed that the committee is given the deadline of the end of October to complete its work.

The FF Plus and DA – who oppose an amendment – said the committee must not be established yet given the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ANC, backed by the EFF – who both want an amendment, albeit in different forms – said the committee’s deadline could always be extended.

Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise said she will discuss the matter with her deputy Lechesa Tsenoli.

Re-establish 

On Thursday’s meeting of the National Assembly Programming Committee, Tsenoli said the committee will be established, but its deadline will be determined later, but their view is that it must complete its work by the end of the year.

He said the committee would have to explore innovative ways to conduct its public participation.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone asked that the decision to re-establish the committee be put in writing to parties.

As the committee has lapsed, it will have to be re-established by a motion of the National Assembly.

In July last year, the National Assembly resolved to appoint the committee and give it the task to amend Section 25 of the Constitution. This after the Fifth Parliament’s committee with the same task could not finish its work before Parliament rose for the 2019 elections.

The committee’s initial deadline was 31 March.

The National Assembly extended this to 29 May in March.

Article by News24