- It is easy, with all the brouhaha taking place in Parliament recently - the expulsion of members of the Economic Freedom Fighters for ‘unparliamentary’ behaviour; their failure to respect the office of the Speaker; the presence of riot police in the parliamentary precinct; the vilification of the Public Protector by some members of parliament (MPs); and the withdrawal of opposition parties from the Ad-hoc Committee on Nkandla – to forget that much of the work of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces takes place in the Portfolio Committees and the Select Committees respectively. Last week saw these Committees being briefed by the Auditor-General and considering the Annual Reports of the various government departments. A glance at one of these meetings provides an encouraging example of how Parliament ought to, and quite often does, work.
The Portfolio Committee on Social Development was briefed by the Auditor-General on the audit findings of the Annual Report of the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities for 2013/14 financial year. This was followed by a briefing by the DSD for 2013/14, as well as consideration of the Annual Report of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for 2013/14 financial year. The reports had been presented to Parliament on 30 September 2014, and it was clear from the participation of the members of the Committee that they had been studied.
The Auditor-General focused on outcomes and oversight. No significant findings were made that compromised the audit, which was regarded as clean. However, problems were identified in the supply chain which could be addressed by better use of information technology. SASSA was found to have several vacant posts, which needed to be filled. The various relief funds were also audited.
The input by the Auditor-General was followed by a presentation from Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, dealing with the substance of the reports. She noted that there had been a decline in poverty due to the nutrition programmes run by DSD, with a particular focus on the poorest wards in the country. Other achievements highlighted were a call centre for victims of gender-based violence; more bursaries for social work students; an increase in the number of babies adopted; the roll-out of the White Paper on the Family; and the institution of strategies to support fatherhood. It was also reported that the Department had met its targets regarding HIV services and substance abuse intervention programmes.
In all the Department had achieved 69 percent of its targets, but there remain many challenges: the underspending of monies allocated to social assistance; lack of compliance by non-governmental organisations with legal provisions which would enable them to receive funding; youth programmes and services performing poorly; and the Older Person’s Register not functioning properly.
The sustained improvement in the Department’s performance is most heartening as is their sensitivity to the gaps in performance. The commitment of the Minister to address these challenges and her engagement with her staff is impressive. As one MP commented, the presentations of both the Auditor-General and the Department ‘were no cut and paste job’!
But this portfolio committee meeting was about much more than a simple list of achievements and problem areas. It was about ministerial accountability; parliamentary oversight; and independent assessment of a state entity’s fiduciary performance. At the meeting two of the three arms of government - legislature and executive - and a constitutional institution (the Auditor-General), came together in proper relation to each other, each exercising its own duty vis a vis the other and according to the principles of the separation of powers and of constitutional government in general. That is how it should be, and indeed how it is, more often than many people realise. Sadly, media coverage tends to reflect the superficial and immature scenes of what happens in the House; behind them, though, the real business of Parliament continues; and therein lies much hope.
- Lois Law is a researcher at the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa says the time has come for a modern leader to be elected in Mozambique's elections.
The organisation’s executive director, Denis Kadima, says that people need a modern leader who does not come with baggage of liberation fighting.
The comments come as the ruling party, the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) chose a presidential candidate with no struggle credentials and comes from a different province.
To read the article titled, “Mozambicans need a modern leader: Analyst,” click here.Source:SABC News
Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change has recently described Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate of 85 percent as a ticking time bomb.
In its 2013 election manifesto, President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party claimed unemployment levels stood at 60 percent.
The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, Japhet Moyo, told a newspaper late in 2012 that the unemployment rate was between 80 and 90 percent while the country’s National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations suggested that overall unemployment in 2011 stood at 95 percent.
To read the article titled, “Is Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate four percent, 60 percent or 95 percent?” click here.Source:SABC News
Angolan vice-president, Manuel Vicente, announces that Angola is preparing itself to participate in a peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic (CAR), under the guidance of the United Nations.
During a ceremony organised by the Angolan mission to UN in New York, where Vicente asserts that that the country awaits to contribute to the resolution of the political and military crisis of CAR.
He further mentions the Angolan bid for the UNSC non-permanent seat for 2015/2016, promising, in case of the country being elected, to work with partners for the establishment of peace and international stability.
To read the article titled, “Angola announces participation in peacekeeping mission in CAR,” click here.Source:All Africa
Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare says a roll-out programme will be implemented to retain female parliamentarians, increase and achieve 50/50 representation of members of parliament in the national assembly.
Speaking in an interview, Gender Affairs director, Peter Msefula affirms that the programme will focus on training female parliamentarians on how best they can save the interest of the people in their constituencies.
Msefula reiterates that many female parliamentarians pledge a lot of developmental programmes of which they do not manage to implement and this prompts their followers to lose trust in them.
To read the article titled, “Female Parliamentarians key for Malawi Development - Kaliya,” click here.Source:Malawi News Agency Online
A South African official states that, Lesotho's leaders are planning to head to the polls early in a bid to restore political order following an attempted coup and stalled peace talks between deadlocked political parties.
South Africa's minister of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has announced that as a result of the coalition government not being ‘fully functional’ Lesotho's leaders are planning to ‘shorten the mandate, of the coalition’.
Nkoana-Mashabane recommends the country to now focus on ‘free, fair and incident free democratic elections for a fresh mandate’ in the upcoming elections to be held in 2017.
To read the article titled, “Lesotho to hold early vote to end political crisis,” click here.Source:News 24
The Southern African region's eyes shifts to Pretoria when the second Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika summit, aimed at resolving the political crisis in Lesotho, commences.
The second round of talks comes after the governing coalition failed to meet the deadline to agree on a date for parliament to reconvene.
SADC chair, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, is already in South Africa for a meeting that will be chaired by President Jacob Zuma.
To read the article titled, “Pretoria to host second SADC Troika on Lesotho,” click here.Source:SABC News
A rights organisation warns that a coup remains imminent in Zimbabwe if the current ‘serious economic situation’ in the southern African country persists.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson, Dewa Mavinga, warns that there could be a military upset in the country if the cash-strapped government failed to pay the army.
Mavinga compared the situation in Zimbabwe with that in Lesotho where an attempted coup forced Prime Minister, Tom Thabane, to flee to South Africa, cautioning that the Southern African Development Community should prepare for a potential catastrophe.
To read the article titled, “Group warns of a looming coup in Zimbabwe,” click here.Source:News 24
Mozambican President, Armando Guebuza and rebel Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama signed a peace deal in Maputo ending a two-year conflict.
Guebuza and Dhlakama signed the deal in front of around 100 diplomats and dignitaries, where the two leaders embraced, prompting jubilant cries and clapping from those gathered.
For two years government forces and fighters loyal to Dhlakama have clashed, with the rebel leader accusing the state of reneging on a peace deal that ended Mozambique’s brutal civil war. Approximately one million people died as a result of the 15-year conflict, which ended in 1992.
To read the article titled, “Mozambique rivals sign landmark peace deal,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) expresses its deepest concern at reports from Swaziland that Vincent Ncongwane, secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), was prevented from speaking at a gathering.
Ncongwane, who returned from the United States (US) where he attended a civil society meeting held to coincide with the US-Africa Summit hosted by US President Barack Obama, was due to address the gathering on the outcomes of this visit.
SALC's executive director, Nicole Fritz states that, "The Swazi government is clearly angered that representatives of civil society dared speak out about the withdrawal of Swaziland's eligibility under the American African Growth and Opportunities Act” adding that, "It is distressing, but not surprising, that this now leads the authorities to actively prevent individuals who disagree with the official position from expressing their views."
To read the article titled, “Continuing clamp down on free speech in Swaziland,” click here.Source:All Africa