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Speech by Honourable Thandi Modise (MP), Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces on Budget Vote 02 of Parliament, 22 May 2018

Fellow Presiding Officers;

Honourable Members;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen

I welcome the opportunity to present Budget Vote 2 of Parliament for 2018/2019 financial year.

"The Constitution is a living document. Our understanding of its requirements will and must adapt over time. But the fundamental principles are and must be unchanging. Full understanding of how and why those principles were adopted will help us to ensure that we remain true to the solemn undertakings which we have made to each other and to those who follow us." This is what President Mandela said. I believe he would have agreed with me saying we must remain true to freedom with responsibility.

We must be guided by the pressing needs of those who have enabled us to walk in these corridors. We must understand that our loyalty is to the people first.

It is worth noting that this budget vote is our last in the 5- year mandate of this 5th Parliament. It is therefore important that we take stock of the past successes and challenges of the work of Parliament.

At the beginning of this 5th Parliament, we said our overarching mission is to "provide the people of South Africa with a vibrant people's assembly that intervenes and transforms society and addresses the challenges of our people."

We reviewed and affirmed our vision of building an activist people's Parliament that is responsive to the needs of our people, driven by the ideal of realising a better quality of life for all South Africa. We pledged to be an "effective voice of the people", in fulfilling our constitutional mandate.

We adopted the following priorities as the 5th Parliament:

Strengthening law-making processes;
Strengthening oversight and accountability over the Executive;
Enhancing public involvement and participation;
Deepening international engagements;
Strengthening co-operative governance; and
Building an effective and efficient organization.
Honourable House Chairperson

Affirming our mandate, former President Nelson Mandela said when he addressed the NCOP in 1998 and I quote:

"The NCOP is uniquely placed to reflect the diversity of our society and to synthesise the experience of those spheres of government which are charged with the great bulk of the task of implementing our national programme of fundamental change"

I am concerned about the numbers of section 139 interventions on Municipalities. Out of the 28, we agreed to 26 and did not approve the two due to failure by the executive to comply with procedural requirements. We are currently gearing up for the section 100(1)(b) intervention on almost the entire North West Provincial Administration.

This intervention was reviewed from being just on the Health Department. We are called upon to be thorough, non-partisan and fearless in our work. Our primary client, our "Boss" is the people.

A total of 236 resolutions were passed by the house. 2068 questions (both for Oral and Written response were out to the executive. We note the improvement of attendance by the executive over the years and continue to frown upon those who have not attended to their business in this house. We will in future name and shame the non-attendance as well as hope that members will pursue inadequate responses by further questioning them. We have also seen an increase in the number of thematic debates. Although more still needs to be done, the quality of the debate has improved tremendously with members focusing more and more on matters affecting their provinces. This, Honourable members, is what distinguishes this House from the other and makes it unique.

The resolutions and recommendations captured in reports of select committees were adopted by the House and communicated to the Executive. However, the response rate is worrying. We are working on improving this.

Honourable members, our select committees have also dealt with priorities and commitments of their different portfolios.

The NCOP has passed a total of 64 Bills during the 5th Parliament of which 31 are section 75 bills, 14 are section 76 Bills and 19 are section 77 Bills.

Honourable Members,

During the 5th parliamentary term, parliament and legislatures continued to strengthen the Legislative Sector collaboration and coordination through the joint sector structures and programmes.

We have invested critical time and resources to build stronger relations with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), as part of focussing on matters affecting the local spheres in the broader programmes of the legislative sector. Collaboration with SALGA has sharpened the NCOP's role in overseeing interventions by Provincial Governments in Municipalities, while the Provincial Speakers' Fora consisting of Speakers of Provincial legislatures and local Municipalities has also assisted in this regard. These efforts were undertaken to enhance the realisation of both the concurrent and exclusive mandates of the three spheres of the legislative sector that are outlined in the constitution.

In our effort to enhance co-operative governance, we recently held the 2018 Local Government Week (the Week) which ran for a week to raise issues affecting the local sphere of government and to seek solutions thereto. The week's work culminated into a debate on the outcomes. We shall process the Report and attend to matters that require our immediate attention. Those that require the attention of other spheres of government shall be referred accordingly.

Honourable House Chairperson,

We have made progress during the 5th Parliament on the development of Models to improve accountability, oversight and public participation. The public participation model was adopted by the Joint Rules Committee in the 2017/2018 financial year and implementation will commence in the 2018/2019 financial year.

In pursuit of outcomes-based oversight, we have adopted a new model for Taking Parliament to the People programme (TPTTP). We have also introduced a community report back session which is held after each programme in order to provide the community with feedback regarding the progress made in addressing challenges that came to light during the programme. This ensures more effective oversight, as national, provincial and local government departments are required to report to Parliament regarding progress. Progress is then verified during the report-back visits. We followed this approach in the provinces of the Western Cape in 2017 and the Eastern Cape in 2018. We are in the process of preparing for a report back to the province of the Free State in 28-31 August 2018 as well as the visit to the Gauteng Province in September and November 2018.

Similarly, oversight weeks and Provincial Week have changed from looking at all matters affecting communities to prioritising specific key sectors, such as economic development, education and health, since the beginning of the term. This has resulted in a more focussed, result-driven and outcomes-based oversight and facilitation of public involvement on matters affecting communities specifically. Honourable Members, the communities must reap the benefits of this approach.

We worked together with relevant committees from the National Assembly and the Provincial Legislatures during both the preliminary visits and the main programmes in order to ensure that there is no duplication and that our efforts are concentrated on addressing the challenges facing our communities. Where necessary, matters are referred to appropriate bodies for action. This approach has worked well and will be continued as a practice going forward. We are indeed reaping the benefits of the concentration of efforts.

Honourable Members,

We want to thank the labour unions and management for the role they are playing in making Parliament a conducive working environment. In the recent past, the relationships in our administration have been characterized by heightened tensions. So, to resolve this challenge, deliberate efforts were established to build working relationships between the institution and the organised labour. Engagements between the various structures of NEHAWU and management on a variety of issues are ongoing.

Strides have been made in resolving some of the thorny issues, which have been outstanding from the previous collective agreements. The parties should be able to continue working together to build on current positive climate, and jointly tackle the challenges in the interest of labour peace and the integrity of our institution. Performance management remains a source of contention, which the parties should address this year.

Negotiations on salaries and conditions of service are ongoing and we are confident that the parties will once again reach a settlement.

In the 2018/2018 financial year, we introduced the Group Life Scheme for all Parliamentary employees. With the limited budget, we have been able to recruit and fill positions that are critical to the core business operations of parliament.

Honourable Members,

As part of cost cutting measures, we now do bulk printing, including the printing of daily papers in-house and this has resulted in significant cost saving.

Our ICT has developed an information portal, which allows for information to be searched for, browsed and retrieved electronically from any location via the internet. This means 24 - hour access to any electronic library resource. However, attention needs to be given to the parliament library which looks dilapidated.

The independent High-Level Panel (The Panel) was established to assess implementation and impact of legislation passed since 1994 in relation to its effectiveness and possible unintended consequences. The panel embarked on a public participatory programme which included citizens, stakeholders and experts. It concluded its work and tabled the final report with recommendations in November 2017.

The panel made a number of recommendations to improve the functioning of Parliament as an institution. It identified areas of public participation, accountability scrutiny of implementation of legislation and effective oversight, development of legislature by Parliament, improving linkages between members and the constituencies, implementation of the National Development Plan and improving the capacity of Parliament and of its members, amongst others. The Joint Rules Committee has established a joint Subcommittee to process the recommendations of the panel. The joint Subcommittee is due to report to the Joint Rules Committee in August 2018.

Members, in a constitutional democracy, the role of Parliament in overseeing the Executive is a sacrosanct. Parliament plays an important and central role in the budget appropriation process. The role of Parliament does not end at the appropriation phase but is carried throughout the course of the financial year where Parliamentary Committees actively conduct overall oversight of the appropriated budget. The public finance oversight capacity of Parliament would not be as elevated as it is today without the scientifically driven technical advisory support provided to Parliament by our very own Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).

In fostering inter-African relations, the South African Parliament hosted two successful African Network of Parliament Budget Offices (AN-PBO) Conferences during the past two years. It is heartening to announce that Parliament will host the 3rd African Network of Parliamentary Budget Offices Conference later this year.

We have been improving on a year -on- year basis in terms of Parliament's financial management on implementation of effective and efficient internal control systems; an integrated planning; monitoring of financial management and strategic management. We received clean audits for 2014/15; 2015/16; 2016/17 as a result of efficient and effective management and leadership.

Honourable House Chairperson,

Since the beginning of term, we have been actively involved in bilateral and multilateral activities.

South Africa has assumed the presidency of BRICS in 2018, therefore as per the practice we may be hosting the fourth BRICS Parliamentary Forum meeting later this year. Consultations are still at the infancy stage. The BRICS Parliamentary Forum meeting will be building on the upcoming 10th BRICS summit to be held in South Africa from 25-27 July 2018. This parliamentary meeting will be an important milestone toward the consolidation and strengthening of corporation among BRICS members.

We continue to participate on the CPA and the IPU fora as well as the CSW (United Nations Commission on the Status of Woman). We are finalising our friendship groups with Greece, Russia and Poland.

Parliament continues to use all available avenues to strengthen and transform key structures such as the Pan African Parliament that are fundamental for deepening continental integration. We are concerned with the state of the Pan African Parliament, we will work hard to resolve the issues there including the signing off on the annexures to the host agreement. Members, the current Parliament structure and environment is not compatible with the activities of Parliament. The limited committee space is not conducive to effective work for the members. In 2016/17, a comprehensive report was produced which consolidated previous space requirements studies including security and residential accommodation requirements for members of Parliament.

We have now instituted the feasibility study. This study is in response to the former President's pronouncement during the 2017 State of the Nation Address, to persuade Parliament to consider relocating from Cape Town.

The 5th Parliament has been kept busy with the high number of litigation cases against and involving Parliament.

PARLIAMENT'S BUDGET (2018/19)

Honourable members allow me to present the budget allocations for the 2018/19 financial year. As I present this budget, please note that we requested an amount of Two Billion, Eight Hundred and Forty-Two Million Rand (R 2, 842 Billion) to treasury as budget estimates. As a consequence, we have a shortfall of Four Hundred and Seventy -Six Million Rand (R 476 Million) which has a direct bearing on how we run this institution.

So for the 2018/19 financial year Parliament's actual allocation is Two Billion, Four Hundred and Twenty-One Million and Six Hundred and Twenty- Five Thousands Rand - (R 2, 451, 625 Billion).

This budget is divided into five programmes as follows:

Strategic Leadership and governance- R 17 850 Million
(Seventeen Million and Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand)

Parliament has a direct charge to the National Revenue Fund, as a provision for members' remuneration, which is a total of Four Hundred and Ninety-Three Million and One Hundred and Sixty- One Thousand Rand (R 493.161 Million).

We will continue to apply prudent financial management principles in our quest to control expenditure against allocated budget.

The world economic climate has improved as per the IMF report of May 2018. But here at home we are still under sluggish growth although significant improvement is showing. This will require all of us, individually and collectively, to exercise greater responsibility in the use of financial resources, in civil commission or omission which may lead to regression of the little improvement in the economy that we see.

Honourable Members,

Over the years, our municipalities and some of our provinces have faced political infighting, resulting in instability that affect citizens very negatively. Procurement mismanagement and pure corruption have affected the quality of service to its citizens.

Wage negotiations seasons have been characterised with violence in the recent years. The collapse of service to citizens especially in health and education is worrisome. We need to protect the rights of the workers as well as the rights of the major recipients of the service of the state.

The decline in the audits of department can only mean the decline in our ability as the legislative sector to hold the executive, to account. It must worry us to hear an executive blaming a subordinate for any matter administrative and/or financial. Leaders must lead and be responsible.

Honourable Members,

We must lead society in action and behaviour. We must mature in our understanding and analysis of current affairs nationally and internationally. We cannot as Parliament keep quiet about the mowing down of Palestine's unarmed marches. We cannot keep quiet about the continuing situation of Morocco and Western-Sahara.

Our Parliament must be the last resort of our people. We must condemn in the strongest terms, the disappearance of children, the rape and murder of children and woman in this country. We must challenge our men in Parliament to lead in action, to stop this abominable behaviour of criminals in our society.

We lost great South Africans early this year- Winnie Mandela, Zola Skweyiya, Dikgang Nene, Hugh Masekela, Willie Kgosietsile and amongst them a former member of our house Mme Elsa Van Lingen. May their souls rest in peace.

We are honoured by the increasing participation of our special delegates in attendance and in the quality of their debates. As for our permanent members, thank you to those that are dedicated and always willing to carry an extra burden. As for those of us who have had health challenges and other reasons that have prevented their full participation we hope this year you recover and share in our pride to serve our people.

I wish to thank the support we have received from the staff of Parliament, the acting secretary to Parliament and management. We are committed to a non-sexist, non-racist, equal and prosperous country. Thuma mina!

     
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