Parliament, Thursday 30 April 2020 – The National Assembly Programme Committee (NAPC) held its first virtual meeting today, following the declaration of the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown.
The multiparty committee is chaired by National Assembly (NA) Speaker Ms Thandi Modise and it focuses on the weekly, quarterly and annual programme of the NA.
Today’s meeting considered presentations on Bills currently before Parliament, matters before various committees, forthcoming issues for NA plenary sittings and the clustering of government portfolios for virtual NA oral question sessions involving the Executive.
Parliamentary committees currently conducting oversight on Covid-19, the budget and related matters, through virtual meetings, would continue to meet and engage with members of the Executive, in line with their oversight role.
Ms Modise, in summarising the deliberations, emphasised the importance of holding the Executive to account, ensuring it carried out its public responsibilities and that the public was protected. “Parliament must be robust in holding the Executive to account,” she said.
Today’s NAPC meeting follows the earlier publication of rules to facilitate virtual meetings of the House and committees. The rules take into account procedures and practices underpinned by the constitutional values of an open, accountable and democratic society.
MPs have the same powers, privileges and immunities as they ordinarily have in parliamentary proceedings, and quorum requirements will be determined by the Constitution and the Rules.
The current rules on order in public meetings and in debates will apply, where relevant. Public participation and access to virtual proceedings must be made possible in a manner that is consistent with a participatory and representative democracy and a virtual meeting must be live-streamed, wherever possible.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
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