Parliament‘s presiding officers have instructed that both houses (National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces) resume with immediate effect. This follows the conclusion of MP’s constituency programme on 13 April. Last month, Parliament suspended the programme of its two houses. The decision was taken a few days before the start of the constituency programme of Parliament.
The national legislature has announced that the leave period for MPs — which was scheduled from 28 April to 4 May — has been cancelled. The Constitution requires Parliament to scrutinise and oversee Executive action, to pass legislation, to provide a forum for public consideration of issues and to facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes,” Parliament said.
“In this regard, it must be emphasised that the role of Parliament remains indispensable, during this period of national lockdown and the extended period of social distancing, which is expected to continue for months. “The current period, in which all sections of society are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for radical alteration and adjustment to the normal way of functioning.
“For Parliament, there has never been a more important time to work in an extraordinary manner and intensify our technological capabilities for our transition to an e-Parliament – as also directed by our new strategic plan – to ensure that the execution of our constitutional responsibilities continues uninterrupted. Sittings of two houses will also have to take place during this period and the presiding officers have framed rules to make provision for virtual house sittings.
“Virtual sittings of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces will deal with legislation and other matters needing approval or consideration from the Houses,” Parliament said.
“Questions for written reply and oral question and answer sessions with members of the Executive will be explored. We will publicise, in due course, the details about how virtual House sittings will be conducted once agreed. We are mindful of possible revision of the Budget, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be addressed through the established processes of Parliament.”
The presiding officers have also decided to donate one-third of their monthly salaries to the Solidarity Fund for the next three months. Coronavirus Hotline Number: 0800 029 999 from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday
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