2017 Year end statement of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus

30 November 2017

The Office of the African National Congress Chief Whip extends its well wishes to Members of Parliament as they wrap up their parliamentary work for 2017. We salute our public representatives for the dedicated and selfless service rendered to the people of South Africa during this third year of the 5th democratic parliamentary term.

We end the year of 2017 having lost three serving members of parliament. We remember Honourable Timothy Khoza and Honourable Tania Baker who both lost their lives in service of the people. We also remember Honourable Trevor Bonhomme who also passed on this year due to illness. Their contribution and dedication to serving the people of South Africa will forever remain in our hearts and minds.

We would also like to wish Honourable Dr Pieter Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus (FFP) well as he takes retirement from the National Assembly.

1. Enhanced Parliamentary Oversight

The realisation of the ANC's policies and programmes which are designed to radically improve the material conditions of our people require robust and fearless parliamentary oversight over the executive. Members of Parliament have, as the representatives of the people, actively engaged and intervened in matters affecting the state and the public at large.

The Minister of Social Development, Minister of Public Enterprises and the Minister of Health among others, were called to account to parliament on matters of national importance and public interest. Through the joint intervention of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, parliament successfully intervened in ensuring that government does not falter on its responsibility to provide social security to the poor and working class.

Through the inquiry into the SABC, Parliament played a critical role in stopping the rot at that institution and repositioning the public broadcaster as a national asset that serves the people.

The parliamentary inquiry currently underway into Eskom is unearthing governance failures which have had a dire impact on our power utility. We thank the members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises for their ongoing outstanding work and look forward to their report in the new year. We condemn the acts of intimidation members and staff of this committee have been subjected to. These acts of intimidation only prove that greater oversight is necessary at this state owned company.

ANC Study Groups (made up of ANC MPs in portfolio committees), where ministers and their deputies participate as ANC MPs have served as a platform where difficult questions are asked by MPs to right wrongs even before matters are dealt by portfolio committees. However, similar questions were advanced with the necessary fierceness and boldness on both the portfolio committee and House plenary platforms.

We are confident that the good examples of effective parliamentary oversight will carry through to the second half of the year.

2. Holding the Executive Accountable

We observed on-going positive engagement between members of the executive and parliament. The executive as led by the President of the Republic comrade Jacob Zuma and the Deputy President, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as Leader of Government Business (LOGB) regularly interacted with both houses of parliament to ensure accountability to parliament.

These appearances include the State of the Nation Address (SONA), Response to the SONA debate; Budget Votes; appearances in the NA and the NCOP for responses to oral questions. Through these mechanisms we have been able to inform our people about our government in areas of the economy, peace and security, social transformation and governance.

3. Legislative Work

As part of its law-making function, parliament processed 26 Bills in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces during this year.
Parliament successfully engaged in the process of the Appropriations Bill and the Adjustments Appropriation Bill which sets to appropriate money from the National Revenue Fund for the requirements of the state for the 2017/2018 financial year. Other crucial finance bills passed are the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill (FICA), the Financial Sector Regulation Bill (FSR) and the Insurance Bill.

The National Assembly recently adopted the Interim Report on the Transformation of the Financial Sector which aims to ensure that the Financial Sector benefits all classes and strata but primarily the poor and lower income earners; and contribute to the reduction of inequalities.

Through its Standing Committee on the Auditor General, Parliament is proposing the Public Audit Amendment Bill, 2017. This Bill will empower the AG to refer undesirable audit outcomes to an appropriate body for further investigation. It will also empower the AG to issue a certificate of debt to recover losses in certain instances against the accounting officer or accounting authority accountable for those losses.

The ANC salutes the late Dr Mario Ambrosini of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) who was the first member to introduce a Private Members Bill in the National Assembly. Though his Medical Innovation Bill will not enter the statute book, his dying wish to have the use of cannabis legalised for medical and research purposes has been achieved through parliament's rigorous engagement with the Department of Health and guidelines developed by the Medicines Control Council (MCC).

This year also saw the historic passing of a Private Member's Bill by the National Assembly. We congratulate Hon. Cheryllyn Dudley of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) who authored the Labour Laws Amendment Bill to enable fathers to take paternity leave.

4. Ad Hoc Committee on Political Party Funding

In June 2017, Parliament set up an Ad Hoc Committee to inquire into Political Party Funding in South Africa. This was informed by the ANC's desire to ensure that the country has a comprehensive system of public funding of representative political parties in the different spheres of government in order to strengthen, support and promote democracy. In this regard the ANC has advanced that accountability and transparency be key principles that guide this process.

The committee was tasked with considering a model of public and private funding for political parties and the need for, and possible means of, regulating private funding in all its forms as well as investment entities owned by political parties.

Having deliberated on the public input received, the Committee agreed that the Public Funding of Represented Political Parties Act be repealed and a new Bill that would regulate both the private and public funding of political parties be drafted. This draft was presented and finally approved by the Ad Hoc Committee and is known as the Political Party Funding Bill.

We thank the members of this committee who worked tirelessly in the past six months to ensure that the ANC's policies are implemented. We express our profound gratitude to the individuals, organisations, and stakeholders who participated in this process, and contributed to development of the Political Party Funding Bill. This Bill will be tabled in the first term of 2018.

5. Transparency and Public Participation

In its ongoing effort for complete transparency and public participation, parliament underwent an open and transparent process of appointing the board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) following the report of the ad hoc committee inquiry into the SABC Board at the beginning of the year.

Parliament also conducted processes of appointing the new board of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the board of the Media Development & Diversity Agency (MDDA) and Commissioners for the Commission for Gender Equality in the full glare of the public with full public participation in the process.

6. Constituency Work

We are continuously upgrading our constituency offices to remain the most accessible, functional and effective parliamentary constituency officers in the interest of all our people across the length and breadth of South Africa. We wish our Members of Parliament well as they will be embarking on constituency work in their various constituencies around the country.

Members of Parliament must be visible and rooted amongst the people they represent, intervene decisively and instantly when in service delivery problems in their constituencies and serve as a bridge between Parliament and the people.

7. Conclusion

As 2017 draws to a close, we wish to thank all our MPs for their hard work and dedication during this year. We also thank our staff for their unwavering support and commitment in helping to advance the work of the ANC in Parliament.

We wish our organisation, the African National Congress well in its upcoming National Congress. The work of the ANC in Parliament will be informed by the resolutions of this upcoming National Congress. We therefore wish all delegates and participants well in their deliberations at National Congress as informed by our commitment to a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous South Africa.

Issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip
Nonceba Mhlauli