MPs take seven-week break to campaign for elections
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Lawmakers will go on a seven-week break, in order to campaign for their political parties in the local government elections.
This Friday will be the last day for the MPs to attend meetings before they go on recess until November 1.
This emerged when the National Assembly Programme Committee held an urgent meeting to consider amendments to the programme on Tuesday.
The national legislature’s third term was scheduled to end on September 30, but this was moved forward after the Constitutional Court ruled that the elections be held between October 27 and November 1.
The change will affect the consideration of the report on the expropriation of land without compensation, Parliamentary process to impeach Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, and questions to Deputy President David Mabuza, among other.
Briefing the committee, National Assembly secretary Masibulele Xaso said the Section 25 Committee would finalise its work before the end of its term on Friday.
The committee adopted the amendment bill last Friday and will adopt its report on Wednesday.
Xaso also said the issue of Hlophe has been referred to the justice and correctional services portfolio committee.
ANC Deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the report of the Section 25 Committee should be tabled and debated when MPs returned in November.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ruled that the expropriation of land issue be discussed upon their return, after the elections.
However, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi suggested there should be a debate this week because the land question was a critical issue.
“We want to know what Parliament’s position on the expropriation of land is. We want to use the report to campaign,” Mkhaliphi said.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said there was a lot scheduled for this week and that report could just be tabled when it was adopted.
“The EFF can use their own notes and the report, not based on debate, if they want to use the land issue to canvass. It is not up to us to rush this particular report,” Majodina said.
EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini said the issue of land question and the report have been postponed numerous times.
“It seems there is a lack of seriousness from the committee chair not to let the report be discussed in Parliament. We need this report to be discussed as an urgent matter,” Ntlangwini said.
Dlakude said they understood sensitivity of the land issue and they did not want to rush the report.
“The report must be given enough time and be debated when we return in November,” she said.
But, Mkhaliphi insisted that the programme should be adjusted to squeeze in the debate.
“We need to expose some of the sell-out positions. You, as Parliament, don’t want to address the land issue since 1652. It is high time South Africans know the position of each party,” Mkhaliphi added.
Chairperson of committees Credric Frolic said the report will still need to go through quality assurance processes, after its adoption on Wednesday.
Frolick also said that normally a report had to be tabled at three days before a debate and it would not be advisable to waive that rule.
National Assemble Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there were matters that they would not be able to handle before they go to recess, such as the Section 25 Committee and the Hlophe issue, which were “substantive”.
“Substantive matters should be given time and be discussed in appropriate forums, so that all of us at the end are satisfied with the manner in which we handle issues of this nature,” she said.
The committee heard that the House will prioritise legislation and statutory appointments this week.
The scrutiny of the departments’ annual reports, normally dealt within October, will be considered in November.
It is the same for oral questions to Mabuza, who answers quarterly.
Majodina said there would be no oversight visits and ordinary committee meetings.
“We are suspending the programme until November,” she said, adding that only meetings that sit to meet deadlines, that were constitutionally binding, would continue.