Daily Archives: February 20, 2018

Parliament on 2018 Budget Speech

Parliament and the Budget

In his State of the Nation Address last Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa made an assessment of the state of the country’s socio-economic situation and announced an intensive government programme to deliver services to the people of South Africa.

The Budget Speech, to be delivered by the Minister of Finance to a plenary sitting of the National Assembly, will give details of spending for specific plans.

The Minister of Finance will also table the Fiscal Framework, the Appropriation Bill and the Division of Revenue Bill tomorrow.

Our Constitution requires Parliament to engage actively with the budget process, in the interests of good governance and financial transparency. In section 77, the Constitution states: An act of Parliament must provide for a procedure to amend money Bills before Parliament.

The national budget is a money Bill and in 2009 Parliament passed the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act. This act gives Parliament the power to make alterations to the budget as a whole and to budgets of specific national government departments and entities. Before the act Parliament could either approve or reject the budget, not make modifications to it.

The act has enhanced Parliament’s examination of government spending and revenue collection and, therefore, also enhanced Parliament’s constitutional duty to assess and oversee government action and policy implementation. One of the act’s provisions was to establish a Parliamentary Budget Office.

This Office, established in 2013, provides independent, objective and professional research, advice and analysis on the budget and money Bills issues to Parliament’s four Standing and Select Committees on Finance and on Appropriations. These committees, which deal specifically with issues related to the national budget, also came about as a result of the act.

Oversight over the budget has become a continuous exercise and public participation in the budget process has been enhanced. Ahead of the Budget Speech, the Standing and Select Committees on Finance this week published a media advert, inviting the public to make written submissions on the Fiscal Framework and revenue proposals to be tabled on 21 February.

The Fiscal Framework, among others, estimates all revenue government expects to raise during a financial year and also estimates expenditure, borrowing and debt servicing charges. Submissions received from the public will form the basis for public hearings on 26 February.

Research has shown that meaningful public participation and parliamentary oversight over budget processes increases social ownership of the budget and effective allocation of funds, while reducing waste.

The Minister of Finance presents the budget to Parliament which, through the recommendations of the Finance and Appropriations Committees of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, makes the final budget decisions.

The Constitution allows Parliament to make these decisions so that the people, through their democratically elected representatives, have a say in budget choices which have a major impact on all of society.

Source: Government of South Africa

MEC Magome Masike urges parents to sign HPV vaccination consent forms

Parents urged to sign consent forms for HPV vaccination

Health MEC Dr. Magome Masike is appealing to parents to sign consent forms to allow health officials to vaccinate their children.

The Department of Health together with the Department of Education kick started the first round of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination from 7 February until 27 March 2018 targeting school girl child from the age of nine years.

HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses that are transmitted through sexual intercourse. The virus can infect the genital area and end up causing genital warts and different cancers.

The purpose of this intervention is to prevent cervical cancer and protect learners against worm infestations. Health professionals will soon start visiting public schools in the province to administer free HPV.

The department runs the campaign twice in a year. The second dose will be administered from 22 August to 27 September 2018.

MEC Masike said the success of an immunisation campaign such as this one is highly dependent on the parental acceptance of the vaccine as an effective lifesaving immunisation.

It is important that we protect our children, future women of South Africa against cervical cancer. The focus here is prevention and promotion rather than curative.

I am therefore appealing to all communities to inform parents, guardians and extended families of these young girls that the vaccination is available and is free.

Parents need to ensure that they have signed and return the consent forms which they will receive from the school that their child attends. No girl will be vaccinated without parental consent, Masike said.

Source: Government of South Africa

MEC Gwen Ramokgopa shocked by allegations of rape at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital

MEC Ramokgopa outraged by the allegations of rape at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital

Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa has reacted with shock to an alleged sexual assault against a patient by a sessional doctor based at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital at Krugersdorp. This incident is alleged to have taken place yesterday morning.

Upon hearing about the matter, the hospital management assisted the victim and alerted the specialist Family Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit of the South African Police Service where the sexual assault case was opened.

The victim was then referred to Leratong Hospital’s crisis centre for clinical assessment, trauma counselling and collection of evidence.

I am saddened by these allegations and it’s difficult for me to comprehend how can a professional entrusted to look after our vulnerable patients commit such a heinous act.

Although we are allowing the police to do their work, we should send a strong message to our employees and community members at large that sexual assaults are human rights violations and should be strongly condemned and the perpetrators should face the might of the law, said MEC Ramokgopa.

The department views this incident in a serious lightly and we have since stopped the services of the alleged perpetrator with immediate effect. This incident should not have happened in the first place as doctors are trained to look and care for our patients and not abuse them in any form. The implicated doctor will also be reported to the Health Profession Council of South Africa for his alleged misconduct, emphasized MEC Ramokgopa.

Source: Government of South Africa

MEC Dan Palto welcomes conviction of Provincial Police Commissioner, Arno Lamoer

Lamoer corruption conviction welcomed

I welcome the conviction of former Provincial Police Commissioner, Arno Lamoer, and two senior SAPS officials in the Western Cape High Court yesterday on corruption charges.

The corruption conviction yesterday is a stark reminder to everyone within the police ranks that when you should know better, you should do better or you will face the full might of the law.

Crime and corruption has no place in the police and cannot be tolerated or overlooked � regardless of rank, status or service history.

Though the conviction yesterday brings to a close a painful exercise of self-reflection for the accused and the police at large, it should not be dismissed as an isolated incident.

I still receive too many complaints from community members about police officers being in cahoots with gangsters, captured by those with criminal intent or not serving the safety interests of the people they are supposed to protect.

I urge the Provincial and National Police Management to continue cleaning out the rot whenever and wherever it is detected.

The reputational damage done to the dedicated men and women in blue, serving our communities on a daily basis was evident last year when during my department’s Policing Needs and Priorities determination process, it was clear that communities want less corruption within the SAPS. The perception persisted that some police officials are corrupt, bolstered by the high profile corruption charges brought against the former Provincial Commissioner.

The Western Cape Government will continue to hold the police accountable as is expected from us as constitutionally mandated through our oversight.

Source: Government of South Africa

Ursula K. Le Guin Wins Posthumous Prize for Essay Writing

The late Ursula K. Le Guin was among the recipients of literary honors presented Tuesday night by PEN America.

The science fiction/fantasy author’s No Time to Spare won a $10,000 prize for best essay writing. Le Guin died last month at age 88 and her award was announced during a New York ceremony hosted by PEN, the literary and human rights organization.

Poet Layli Long Soldier’s debut collection Whereas won a $75,000 award for the year’s best book. Jenny Zhang’s story collection Sour Heart received a $25,000 prize for best debut fiction and Alexis Okeowo’s A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa won a $5,000 award given to outstanding works by authors of color.

This year’s awardees represent the near and far corners of the literary landscape, including writers who have shattered barriers of race, class, ethnicity, geography, gender and sexual orientation to bring stories to new audiences, unlock empathy and take places of distinction within our collective canon, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. In times of challenge great literature offers a desperately needed window onto other possibilities.

Lifetime achievement awards had been previously announced and were given to Edmund White, who won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for American fiction, and Edna O’Brien, winner of the PEN/Nabokov Award for international literature.

Source: Voice of America