In less than two years before the end of the parliamentary term of the Fifth Parliament, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) invited provincial legislatures and the South African Local Government Association (Salga) for a review and planning session to reflect on its performance over the past three years.
Opening the two-day Mid-term Review and Planning Session of the NCOP in Parliament on Tuesday, NCOP Chairperson Ms Thandi Modise said: “As the NCOP enters 21 years since its existence, we will continue taking stock of the past successes and continue celebrating the achievements of our constitutional democracy. What is also important is that we will reflect on the challenges we are constantly faced with as the institution.”
The NCOP Chairperson said the session was held to review and plan the Institution’s work in collaboration with provincial legislatures and Salga. “We look at how we performed as the NCOP in past three years in terms of our mandate.”
She said Salga raised the issue of the review of the legislation impeding development and service delivery at the local government level “and we are looking into the matter and other matters that organised labour has presented”.
“We are left with only a year and a half, if not less, before we finish the term. We need to ask ourselves to what extent have we advanced the reputation of our institutions, especially by delivering on our mandate as I have outlined earlier? We also need to look at to what extent have we earned the public trust and admiration through our hard and honest work?
Ms Modise told the session delegates, which included NCOP Permanent Delegates, Members of Provincial Legislatures and councillors, that it was time to evaluate the performance of the NCOP whether it was able to change the lives of the people for the better?
“There are areas that we need to go back and fix, we need to get to the space of dealing with the issues around public hearings in provinces, when do we say this is good qualitative hearings and not just ticking the box, because if not handled well they can be a source of conflict,” said Ms Modise.
The Chairperson also made references to litigations and the fact that Parliament wasted a lot of time and funds on court challenges which she said some could have been avoided, making an example of the Lamosa judgment where the Land Access Movement of South Africa (Lamosa) took Land Restitution Act to the Constitutional Court, which declared the Act invalid, because “Parliament failed to satisfy its obligation to facilitate public involvement in accordance with section 72 (1)(a) of the Constitution”.
The President of Salga, Councillor Parks Tau, said the participation of local government in the NCOP has improved significantly in this parliamentary term. He called on the need to review legislation to further improve local government functioning and the implementation of international accords and agreements at our local sphere of government.
Through our national government we have signed a number of international treaties, this requires that as a country we engage and review these multinational agreements, including the Paris Accord, and the Sustainable Development Goals to enable their implementation at local government level.
On the first day of the mid-term review and planning, delegates split into four commissions to deliberate on law-making, oversight facilitation and public involvement, international participation and parliamentary diplomacy. The commissions will report back on the second day where resolutions and the way forward will be taken.
By Sakhile Mokoena
6 February 2018