Parliament, Wednesday 04 December 2019 – The National Assembly at its last plenary sitting for the year, passed the Adjustments Appropriations Bill and adopted the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Service report recommending the appointment of Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka as Deputy Public Protector.

The Adjustment Appropriation Bill was tabled with the 2019 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament by the Minister of Finance on 30 October 2019, outlining the budget priorities of the government for the medium-term estimates. The Money Bills and Related Matters Act, No 9 of 2009 provides that in the event of a revised fiscal framework, an Adjustments Appropriation Bill must be referred to the Committee on Appropriation in the National Assembly. Accordingly, the National Assembly referred the 2019 Adjustments Appropriation Bill to the Standing Committee on Appropriations on 13 November, for consideration and report.

The Committee facilitated a process of public participation inviting the general public and all interested stakeholders to make written submissions and comments on the Bill. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Budget Justice Coalition and Fields of Green for All are among those that made comments on the Bill. Having considered the inputs from the stakeholders on the Bill, the Standing Committee on Appropriations raised concerns on the R3.9 billion in declared unspent funds given the negative impact on the service delivery programmes where these funds were initially planned to be spent.

The Committee is of the view that continued under-expenditure on capital expenditure pointed to lack of proper planning, poor budgeting and inadequate project management skills within the departments.

The Committee recommended that the Minister of Finance should ensure that National Treasury carefully scrutinises government departments’ ability to spend allocated funds before submitting budget proposals to Parliament to prevent continued underspending on allocated funds as it has implications on government debt and interest payments.

It also recommended that Parliament should ensure effective budgeting and performance scrutiny of the Executive to ensure timeous interventions where there is evidence of underperformance on non-financial and financial information.

The Bill was passed and sent to the NCOP for concurrence.

At the same sitting, the NA also recommended the appointment of Adv Kholeka Gcaleka as Deputy Public Protector in terms of section 2A of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994.

In August 2019, a letter was tabled from the Speaker to the President of the Republic, dated 12 June, informing the President of the expiry of the term of office
of the Deputy Public Protector on 9 December. This initiated a process of filling the expected vacancy. The letter was referred to the Justice and Correctional Services Committee for consideration and report.

The Public Protector in South Africa is one of six independent state institutions set up in terms of the country’s Constitution to support and defend democracy.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, which was tasked with the process interviewed seven candidates and agreed to nominate Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka upon the expiry of the term of office of the incumbent Adv. Kevin Malunga, on 9 December 2019. The name of Adv Kholeka Gcaleka will be forwarded to the President.

As customary, the sitting included the traditional end-of-year farewell speeches which saw Members reflecting on the year that was and conveying their well-wishes as the House rises for December holidays and Constituency work.

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