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South Africa: Budget Votes and 1913 Land Act CCNTENARY Activities Dominate Parliamentary Programme in Second Quarter of 2013
Source: Issued by: Parliament of South Africa
Source Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: South Africa
Created: Apr 25, 2013

Parliamentary Committees have also been gearing up for the budget vote debates of our government departments. These budget votes start on 7 May and continue until 13 June.

Parliament’s budget vote is on 11 June. This is followed by the budget vote of the Presidency on 12 June and the reply by the President on 13 June to the debate on the Presidency’s budget.

A number of key debates are also scheduled for this quarter, which ends on 21 June.

These include tomorrow’s statement by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans on developments regarding the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to the Central African Republic.

Also scheduled for tomorrow is a debate on Freedom Day, which we celebrate on 27 April. The theme for the Freedom Day debate is “mobilising society towards consolidating democracy and freedom.”

Parliament is also leading a number of activities to mark the centenary of the infamous 1913 Native Land Act, of which Sol Plaatje wrote in his 1916 work Native Life in South Africa: "Awaking on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.”
A workshop on the legacy of the Act and the vision for land reform and agriculture is provisionally scheduled for 10 May at Parliament. Members of Parliament (MPs), provincial legislatures and stakeholders concerned with land and agricultural issues will be invited.
There will also be public debates on the issue in the provinces, visits to various farms and rural development and land reform projects and lodging of land claims by people who missed opportunities to do so. This includes Khoi-San communities whose land dispossession predates the 1913 cut-off date of the Restitution of Land Rights Act.
All these activities will culminate in a joint sitting of the NA and NCOP in June, the month in which the Act was passed in 1913.
Work on developing a Public Participation Framework for Parliament and the provincial legislatures started in late 2012 and is near completion. It included a multi-media campaign to elicit public input on the framework. Thousands of submissions were received.
The initiative was motivated by the understanding that public involvement in the work of Parliament should be more than providing the public with opportunities to express their views. For public involvement to be meaningful, these views must also find expression in the Parliamentary programme, lead to concrete action and be integrated into Parliament’s core functions, including its oversight work.
Another initiative aimed at enhancing Parliament’s role in deepening our democracy is the establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Office.
The Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009 sets out the procedure – demanded by the Constitution – for Parliament to be able to amend money bills, including the national budget. Before the Act, Parliament could either approve or reject money bills but not amend them.
The Act also establishes a Parliamentary Budget Office. The function of this office is to provide expert technical analysis and information about fiscal matters to MPs so that they can carry out their new, budget-influencing role. Parliament is currently discussing the appointment of a director to head the budget office.
Initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of support from Parliament’s administration to MPs and to increase specialised technical, administrative, logistical and legal support to Committees – the engine rooms of Parliament – are underway.
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