ParlyBeat

ParlyBeat is a digital newsletter published by the Dullah Omar Institute’s Women and Democracy Initiative, in collaboration with the Parliament Watch Collective and the Putting People in People's Parliament Project.

ParlyBeat makes links between the policy and oversight processes taking place in committees in the legislatures and the lived realities of ordinary people. Through this it aims to increase public scrutiny of the performance of the legislatures, increase access to information on key social justice issues, and also promote increased engagement by a broader range of the public with the work of legislatures.

The publication Includes news analysis and feature articles as well as reflections from Parliament Watch members and relevant information to increase knowledge of and access to the legislatures. The newsletter’s content can be republished by media outlets subject to certain conditions of a creative commons licence.

ParlyBeat will be published every second Thursday, and people can subscribe via email, or follow ParlyBeat on Facebook and Twitter.

The articles can be republished subject to certain licensing conditions.

ParlyBeat is published with the support of the Open Society Foundation. The views expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the DOI or the OSF.

Latest from ParlyBeat

Impressions form Parliament
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Nov 27, 2018

Parliament will close another four portfolio committee meetings to the public between 26 November until 4 December before the national legislature wraps up for its recess period. This follows at least two letters written to the Speaker’s office in Parliament raising concerns over closing meetings to the public. However, a collective of civil society organisations under Parliament Watch, sections of the media and individuals are still waiting on a response to the concerns they raised. Parliament has since indicated it is still drafting a response to the concerns raised in the letter. So, what are these concerns?

Action not just outrage needed to protect children
Author: Jacob
Published: Nov 27, 2018

Outrage alone will not save our children from harm and neglect but fixing the tools for social protection of children will be a good start. This is how some MPs in Parliament recently responded to the department of social development’s figures showing multimillion-rand underspending on programmes like foster care grants. MPs across the political spectrum in the Portfolio Committee on Social Development raised concern and demanded answers over the department’s under expenditure on social assistance totalling almost R900 million. This concern however, did not necessarily translate into decisive demands for action in the department’s Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR).

Another wake-up call for Parly's Public Participation
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Nov 27, 2018

As the proposed constitutional amendments to allow land expropriation without compensation is facing its first court challenge, Parliament now has another opportunity to deal with its legislative mandate’s great Achilles' heel – meaningful public participation. On November 15 after nationwide public hearings spanning over two months the Joint Constitutional Review Committee in Parliament adopted its report in favour of amending section 25 of the Constitution. Lobby group Afriforum however, launched a court application to have this report set aside citing serious concerns over the public participation process.

Return Minimum Wage Bill to Parliament, CGE demands
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Nov 27, 2018

As Cosatu on Monday congratulated the President for signing the National Minimum Wage Bill into law, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) requested the bill to be returned to Parliament to be reconsidered. There has however, been no formal announcement from the Presidency that the bill was indeed signed into law. The CGE’s request follows serious concerns raised by the non-profit sector over the bill’s possible impact on the fate of care workers and other NPO staff. Despite concerns raised, certain government departments until now opted to follow a “wait and see” approach to what has been labelled an impending crisis for the non-profit (NPO) sector, and the women and children depending on its services.

On Watchdogs that need teeth
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

Questions in Parliament is one of the few ways MPs can use to hold the executive accountable. The efficacy of this oversight mechanism however, depends on the extend the executive answers and if they are present during oral question time or in committee meetings. This is not just important for oversight but also transparency as principles of for good governance. Ministers often come under fire for dodging questions. The DA last year took aim at former Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini who they claimed failed to answer 93% of the questions relating to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

Police failing domestic abuse victims? Counting the costs of SAPS non-compliance
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

For the past three reporting periods between 2016 and March 2018, not a single police station visited by the SAPS’ Civilian Secretariat has fully complied with the Domestic Violence Act. In terms of this Act, the SAPS must report biannually to Parliament on complaints received against police officers who don’t properly implement the Act and the steps taken against them. Beyond the grim nature of domestic-violence statistics, the costs of non-compliance are often high and can have life-or-death consequences on a victim.

Beneficiaries want to be heard over Sassa-woes
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) last week expressed confidence that the Post Office’s (Sapo) next pay-out of social grants at end of September will be “much smoother”. Many beneficiaries however, are still confused over the transition process and some called on MPs to hold public hearings where they can express how the transition impacts on their lives. From October Sapo will take over grant pay-outs from the former service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). Sassa said in the statement that Sapo already paid beneficiaries R4,4 billion through 7,4 million transactions by 3 September. Sassa CEO Abraham Mahlangu described Sapo’s progress as “impressive” given the volume of September’s pay-outs and the number of beneficiaries it managed to migrate to the new gold Sassa card.

Civil Union Bill gets committee's go-ahead
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Sep 11, 2018

The Civil Union Amendment Bill recently got the go ahead from Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs when it recently adopted a motion of desirability on amending the Civil Union Act. many hailed the Act passed in 2006, as a big victory for the LGBTQ-community as it extended marriage rights, albeit in the form of a civil union, to same-sex couples. The euphoria over the Act was short-lived as it did not necessarily mean a happily ever after for many same-sex couples who got turned away from certain branches of the Department of Home Affairs.

Money and political will needed to tackle child murders
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Feb 23, 2018

Amidst the backlash against the budget tabled in Parliament this week as “anti-poor”, an answer to a Parliamentary question revealed that often money alone is not enough to address serious social ills. Political will is just as crucial to put systems in place to achieve the very thing budgets are intended for. This in turn will require rigorous monitoring by citizens and civil society of budget spending and its impact – something that will hopefully improve with the new Vulekamali initiative for greater public input in budget processes.

Calls to include patient voices for needs-based health budgeting
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Feb 23, 2018

The budget tabled in Parliament this week, does not address a crumbling health system, certain civic organisations warned. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced a R205 billion budget for health in the new financial year that is set to increase to R240,3 billion.

Funding of shelters for abused women is still uncertain post-budget
Author: Alicestine October
Published: Feb 22, 2018

Social protection is an important safety net for the poor yet not all will benefit from this. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba this week delivered his budget speech in Parliament and announced the government’s plan to increase its spending on social protection from R193.4 billion in the next financial year to R223.9 billion by 2021.

Impressions from Parliament
Author: Jay Kruuse
Published: Feb 22, 2018

This week South Africans got a glimpse into the state of South Africa’s finances and how it will affect their pocket when Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivered his budget speech in Parliament. Some have since labelled the budget as a “betrayal” and an “insult” to the poor. This backlash raises interesting questions on the level of public input in the budget. Very few ordinary South Africans get proper insight into the budgetary process or meaningfully participate in what is often a very complex process. This was highlighted recently in the Open Budget Survey 2017 showing South Africa may lead on budget transparency but disappoints in fostering public participation in the budget process.