At the Speakers’ Forum in Durban yesterday the Speaker of the Northern Cape Legislature, Ms Sussana Dantjie, gave a presentation on the sector’s budget lekgotla report, saying that the legislative sector’s budget should not be determined by the executive arm of state.

“The legislative sector must reclaim its status as a sovereign arm of the state and should, therefore, determine its own budgetary needs and framework and the allocation of its budget should speak to that. This to undo a legislative budgetary framework imposed by the executive, which perpetuates the continued underfunding and budget cuts experienced by legislatures in recent years.”

She added that this move is crucial if the sector is to align itself with its strategic framework. It is also necessary to ensure effective administration and governance systems, that members receive the support they need, and that research and legal services are properly resourced. Ms Dantjie further emphasised the importance of political will from Parliament’s executive authority to expedite the matter.

Later that day and to this end, national legislature Speaker Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced that Parliament would be meeting with the Minister of Finance to discuss the legislative sector’s budgetary model as a sovereign arm of the state. 

Another ongoing concern is the absence of guidelines on the legislative sector presiding officers’ privileges and entitlements. According to the Chairperson of Secretaries’ Forum and Secretary of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Adv Eric Phindela, currently the presiding officers of the legislative sector use the ministerial handbook to give guidance on the matter. The Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Amos Masondo, spoke about the urgency of this matter, as the Auditor-General would be quick to censure them if they inadvertently overstepped the mark.

 The Legislative Sector Support’s Director, Ms Sandisiwe Schalk, reported on the financial standing of the sector’s donor fund and mentioned that the European Union is still committed to fund the enhancement of the sector’s oversight programmes.

The working group on the sector’s core business, led by the Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature, Ms Ntombi Mekgwe, reported that there is a need to assess the effectiveness of the sector’s oversight model to assist the sector to achieve its constitutional mandate. Her report also recommended a survey be done of the South African Legislative Sector’s public participation. Ms Mekgwe also spoke about the necessity of gender responsive budgeting in the legislative sector, as this is currently lacking.

Delays in the composition and tabling of the Legislative Sector Bill is also an ongoing concern. The sector currently has its own memorandum of understanding that binds it as a constitutive body, but this has no legislative standing and therefore the sector is not bound together in law.

Abel Mputing
22 September 2022