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Parliament bogged down with bills

Politics
Johannesburg – Parliament has complained about being flooded with a plethora of bills and having little time to conclude them.

Speaker Baleka Mbete and MPs complained that this had impacted on the processing and resulted in some of the bills being returned by President Jacob Zuma.

The National Assembly said that this year alone, cabinet had sent 66 bills, with the expectation being that they would be concluded in a year.

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File picture: Matthew Jordaan/Independent Media

This is in addition to 26 bills from last year still requiring urgent finalisation.

Acting cabinet spokesperson Donald Liphoko referred inquiries to Ronnie Mamoepa, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson.

Mamoepa said cabinet was yet to finalise the legislative programme for Parliament for the year.

He said the numbers were speculative until the programme has been finalised.

“Cabinet is still to finalise the legislative programme whereupon the leader of government business, the deputy president, will submit to Parliament. At this stage these numbers are speculative.”

In the meeting of the programming committee last week DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Parliament needed to be realistic on what can be achieved in a year.

He said a work study was needed to determine how long it takes to complete a bill.

Mbete said: “It is as if we are in a stampede to try to cope with legislation. On the other end, the National Council of Provinces must get the voices of the people.”

Gerard Koornhof, Ramaphosa parliamentary adviser, explained that cabinet sent bills that were ready for processing to Parliament.

House chairperson in the National Assembly, Cedrick Frolick, said portfolio committees in Parliament did not have to deal only with the bills.

They have to conduct oversight visits to various institutions across the country.

Portfolio committees also have to deal with the reports of departments and entities they oversee, he said.

Frolick said this also took up a lot of time for the committees. He said history has shown that the bills would arrive in the second half of the year and this would push the programme of Parliament.

The bills would arrive at the time committees were also busy with other pieces of legislation and needed to conclude those in time.

The Star

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