The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Mr Amos Masondo is hopeful that the planning session of the NCOP, the provincial legislatures and the South African Government Association (Salga), would produce innovative ideas to help improve the work of the NCOP in the sixth Parliament.

 “I have no doubt in my mind that we shall emerge from this planning session with progressive ideas of how to improve outcomes based oversight to improve law-making processes to make quality laws, improve facilitation of public involvement in the law-making and other processes, and to improve international participation,” he said.

The NCOP today began a two-day planning session with the provincial legislatures as well as the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and other relevant stakeholders to draft a road map on intergovernmental relations for the duration of the sixth parliament.

Permanent and special delegates to the NCOP, MPLs and Salga representatives are meeting in Parliament’s Old Assembly Chamber to deliberate on coordination, collaboration and cooperation between their various institutions, with an aim to come up with a coordinated plan which will impact on how they carry out their constitutional mandate and better the lives of the people.

The House Chairperson for Committees, Oversight and Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) in the NCOP Mr Jomo Nyambi believes that the latest statistics on rising unemployment and the Auditor-General’s report on the audit outcomes of municipalities, present a strong case for robust oversight and the enhancement of executive accountability.

Leading a discussion on the topic: Overseeing cooperative governance and IGR, during the planning session, Mr Nyambi added that together with the widening gap of inequality and poverty levels affecting many people, the audit outcomes point to a dire situation requiring immediate intervention.

“There exists a strong case for effective oversight and the enhancement of executive accountability and such a case is even made stronger by the latest statistics, indicating that unemployment is on the rise.

“Parliament is better placed to intervene and heighten executive accountability through various oversight activities,

“Co-ordination at different levels between the National Assembly (NA) and NCOP in Parliament, and between Parliament and the provincial legislatures and with Salga needs to be enhanced”, he said.

Mr Nyambi also said the NCOP must continue engaging with the Office of the Auditor General that provides a critical analysis on the National and Local Audit Outcomes for the purposes of reporting, monitoring and evaluation.

Mr Nyambi also suggested that efforts must be made to implement the recommendations of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change, which was instituted by the Legislative Sector.

The Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Ms Sylvia Lucas who facilitated the opening session of the two-day planning session said: “All of us gathered here today, agree that our mission is to build a developmental state that provides effective basic services and with capabilities to take forward a far-reaching agenda of the national economic development, whilst at the same time placing people and their involvement at the centre of this process.”

Furthermore, Ms Lucas said the building of a capable and developmental state at all three spheres of government must be achieved through strengthening political institutions to deliver on their mandate and building effective, integrated planning and service delivery system.

The NCOP Chief Whip Mr Seiso Mohai raised concerns about the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality which he said continued to deepen in the third decade of South Africa’s democracy. He felt that this has diminished the confidence of the electorate in the capacity of the democratic project and its institutions to address these contradictions.

“Our absence in the public space, especially during violent community protests triggered by poor service delivery is a serious indictment on our claim of an activist people’s parliament.

“Often we select areas of focus on the basis of their being topical without measuring our capacity to resolve them in the immediate, medium and long term. This has the unintended consequences of generating unrealistic expectations of our people. We need to ensure that we select focus areas that are measurable and within the capacity and mandate of the NCOP to resolve. A case in point is the approach that we have taken in the current Provincial Week, which focuses on the financial state of local government,” emphasised Mr Mohai.

By Sakhile Mokoena

20 August 2019