Chairperson of the NCOP, Hon. Amos Masondo
Senior Managers of Parliament;
Ladies and Gentlemen
A continuing journey towards Institutional Recovery
Today we present to you the 2023/24 budget for Vote 2, with a great sense of optimism for the continued journey of recovery for the institution of Parliament.
Over the past twelve months, which is also the period under review for this budget vote debate, we have seen remarkable progress to reinstate normal operations and functionality of Parliament following the devastating effects of both the global Covid-19 pandemic and the fire disaster of 2022.
The stabilisation effort has since seen us establish a firm governance framework, including strengthening strategic leadership of the institution through the appointment of, amongst others, the Secretary to Parliament and the Chief Financial Officer.
Parliament is also in the process of appointing a new Chief Security Officer after the job profile was reviewed.
30 Year Review since the first democratic Parliament in South Africa
As you are aware, next year, 2024, marks 30 years of democracy and the first democratic Parliament of South Africa.
As we approach the 30th anniversary of South Africa's democracy, it is a time for us to reflect on our journey towards a free and democratic society. It is a journey that has been marked by both challenges and triumphs, but one that has ultimately led us to where we are today - a land of opportunity and hope.
The democratic Parliament of South Africa has played a critical role in supporting our democracy and development over the years. It has been a voice for all South Africans and has worked tirelessly to ensure that our people's rights and freedoms are protected.
As we look back at the progress our nation has made in realising true social change, we will also have to conduct a review of the role that Parliament has played in supporting the building of united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society where there’s equality and opportunities for all.
Overall, through its legislative and oversight functions, the Parliament has helped to create a legal framework that has enabled us to build a democratic and free society. We have passed laws that have protected the rights of our citizens, especially the vulnerable groups, enshrining the right to vote, universal access to education, healthcare and the right to a fair administration and justice.
Over the past 3 decades, Parliament has also been instrumental in advancing the economic development of our people, passing laws that have encouraged foreign investment, promoted entrepreneurship, and supported small businesses.
There has been encouraging levels of progress in reducing poverty and increasing access to economic opportunities for the previously disadvantaged and women in particular.
As we approach the 30th anniversary of our democracy in 2024, we therefore, must acknowledge the achievements of the democratic Parliament of South Africa. It has played a vital role in shaping our nation, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served in this Parliament over the years.
But our work is not yet done, and there are still many challenges that remain. Despite progress in reducing poverty, inequality remains high, and unemployment remains a major challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these challenges even more acute, with many people losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet.
Another key challenge that we face is the capacity of the state. While progress has been made in building institutions that support democracy, there are still significant gaps in the capacity of the state to deliver services effectively. Corruption and mismanagement continue to be major obstacles to progress.
The economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic – lost jobs and delayed investments – are being exacerbated by inadequate electricity supply, with the highest levels of load‐shedding to date. It is estimated that load shedding may have reduced GDP for 2022 by as much as 1.3 percent.
As we look to the future, it is clear that we must continue to work together to address these challenges.
The National Development Plan requires that South Africa must build a capable developmental state able to respond to the needs of the people. To attain the aspirations of a capable developmental state, the country needs a transformative Parliament that acts as an agent of change which ensures acceleration of delivery. It must enhance oversight and accountability, stabilise the political administrative interface, professionalise the public service, upgrade skills and improve co-ordination.
It also needs a more pragmatic and proactive approach to managing the intergovernmental system to ensure a better fit between responsibility and capacity.
Parliament’s constitutional role in holding the Executive to account must be pronounced by the manner in which those development indicators are scrutinised, and the Executive is held accountable.
Key achievements of 2022
The previous financial year, 2022/23, was fundamentally influenced by the great loss of the National Assembly and adjacent building complexes. Despite this loss, Parliament has managed to forge ahead and exercise its constitutional tasks with dedication and diligence.
Parliament, through its plenaries and committees, continued to adapt to these challenges, with physical and hybrid proceedings. Parliament continued to strengthen its interface with the people in pursuit of its law-making, oversight and public participation programme. Oversight visits, public hearings, committee meetings and certain ad hoc meetings of Parliament increased compared to the previous year.
Parliament’s constitutional mandate of law-making was successfully executed.
It passed 27 Bills during this period, across all the clusters of our committees. These have covered matters ranging from issues affecting the environment, economic infrastructure, criminal procedure, taxation, drug trafficking and the Electoral Laws Amendment.
Parliament also passed the national budget for the applicable financial years, being the Division of Revenue Bills, and Appropriation Bills.
In the following year, we will particularly look into some of the legislation aimed at strengthening the functions of Parliament and its oversight, including amendments to the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act (FMPPLA), the Government Immoveable Assets Management Act (GIAMA) and the introduction of the Legislative Sector Bill.
In the aftermath of the fire disaster and the many structural vulnerabilities that contributed to such extensive damage, we need to amend the GIAMA to ensure that the custodianship of Parliament assets lies with this Parliament and not with the Executive. This will bring the GIAMA in line with the provisions of the FMPPLA, which places such custodianship under the Secretary to Parliament.
After the visit undertaken by the Management Team to check the state of the Parliamentary Villages, the STP will submit a report on their observations and recommendations to improve the state of the accommodation of Members.
However, there’s already an urgent need to review the Parliamentary Village Board Act, (Act 96 of 1998) as it does not reflect the primary interests of members of Parliament. In addition, the definition of the precincts of Parliament as captured in the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, (Act 4 of 2004) may provide a solution to how Parliamentary Villages are managed and dealt with in the future.
As an activist Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people, the institution continued to strengthen measures ensuring greater accountability and oversight over the Executive.
Both Houses held sittings that dealt with debates on issues of national importance, reports, policy, and Bills.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture reports reflected on the oversight work done by Committees and the Houses. The Commission whilst acknowledging some good work done in our committees, identified the need for more investment to support members and to ensure we have the necessary skills and competencies in the administration to improve the oversight mandate of Parliament.
We endorsed these findings and Parliament is committed ensure the implementation of these recommendations including those recommendations referred to portfolio and select committees.
With the lockdown levels removed, we have seen a number of committees resuming physical public hearings and ensuring direct engagement with citizens on key pieces of legislation.
There is however room for improvement to ensure that marginalised communities are not left out in the cold with the emphasis on social media and electronic communication strategies.
To this end the administration is focussed in ensuring that citizens get to know Parliament better and are more informed on how to participate in our processes.
An intensive education curriculum will be developed first and foremost to ensure that citizens can distinguish between Parliament and the Executive.
Several of South Africa’s challenges can only be addressed through improved International and Regional co-operation.
During 2022 and in the first and second quarter of 2023, Parliament continued with its work on regional, continental and multi-lateral institutions. It further adopted the following international agreements. Key amongst them are:
- Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, in terms of Sec 231(2) of the Constitution, 1996, dated 22 March 2022.
- Multilateral Convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting, dated 21 June 2022.
- SADC -Parliamentary Forum Agreement was signed by South Africa in March 2023. South Africa joined other SADC countries that have signed this Treaty, which serves to pave the way for the establishment of the SADC Parliament as an organ of the SADC.
- The SADC Parliament is a positive step towards strengthening our SADC Regional parliaments to participate effectively in the regional integration and economic development. It also allows cohesion of the region and the harmonisation of our model laws.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continue to pose a threat to global peace building efforts. As part of the Interparliamentary Parliamentary Union (IPU), the South African Parliament together with Namibia, is among the Members of the IPU Task Force, which was set up in 2022 to engage with both the parliaments of Russia and Ukraine.
The recent step taken by the African Union (AU) Heads of State to engage both Presidents of the two countries is to be applauded. The IPU Task Force will work to support and strengthen this initiative.
Let me also highlight the issue in relation to the need to review the implementation Act of the ‘Rome Statute’, to ensure that South Africa as a sovereign state, is able to advance her own national interests and sovereignty, whether in addressing the political or economic needs.
Legislative Sector Consolidation
The National Speakers Forum has continued to function effectively and is registering considerable progress in its efforts to strengthen and optimize the Legislative Sector as a distinct and fully capacitated Arm of the State.
Both the National Parliament and Provincial Legislatures have also continued to engage in efforts to strengthen the oversight mechanisms and approach.
At its last meeting held in March 2023, the Forum received reports on on the finalisation of all the legal instruments required to fully constitute the Sector and its governance structures. The STP also presented the ‘consolidated Legislative Sector Budget’ for 2023/24, to be discussed with the National Treasury.
The Auditor General has issued Parliament with Clean Audit outcome for the year in review. Also, critical to note is that, despite the declining fiscal allocations caused by deteriorating economic conditions, the control environment remained strong, as the Audit Committee, Internal Audit and the Risk Management capacity progressively improved.
New macro framework for Parliament
In order to prepare the institution for this transition, a review of the institutional strategy was conducted in November 2022 with the theme of “Improving the quality of governance and accountability through enhanced oversight”.
The deliberations from the session culminated in a draft macro framework for the 7th Parliament, including the following strategic themes:
- Ensuring a transformative Parliament to drive the attainment of national development outcomes, as reflected in the National Development Plan;
- Being a responsive Parliament that addresses the shortcomings of Parliament, as pointed out by civil society and the Commission on State Capture;
- Collaborative engagement to form new partnerships in order to harness the strength of combined effort;
- Engagement with stakeholders so as to meet expectations and needs of South Africans; and
- Operational excellence ensuring a more effective and efficient institution.
Moving the institution into this new strategic direction will require significant transformation and change. It is therefore acknowledged that a “Business-As-Usual” approach to strategy and its execution, will not be feasible and that a transformative strategy will be required to drive the change necessary to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the institution.
Some of the transformational targets are set for 2023/24:
- High-level change management plan to ensure transformation of the institution;
- Implement the plan for the restoration of Parliamentary buildings;
- Implement an institutional process ensuring strategic clarity;
- Review and optimise the business model for Parliament;
- Develop and implement a new broadcasting strategy for the 7th Parliament.
- Implementation of the recommendations by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture;
- Development and implementation of an Oversight Priority Model to ensure focus on critical areas;
- Scorecards for Parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces and Committees, to cascade and align strategy;
- Review Parliament’s capability to implement its international priorities aligned to the national agenda;
- Develop and implement an oversight monitoring and tracking mechanism.
Current and emerging issues and risks
In early January 2022, large parts of the National Assembly and Old Assembly buildings were damaged by fire. This resulted in Parliament utilising alternative facilities to host activities of joint sittings, sittings of the National Assembly, and office accommodation for Members and support staff. Whereas a return to more normal parliamentary operations were expected by 2022, the fire damage is necessitating the continued use of hybrid proceedings in order to fulfil the functions of Parliament.
The parliamentary precinct remains under serious strain, and facilities require reconstruction, renovation and modernisation.
Honourable Members, at the conclusion of the meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament on the 12th of May, we had an opportunity with Members of the Committee, to access the damaged area in the new wing. What stood out for me, was to find the flag of South Africa in that environment, still flying high, and completely unscathed by the devastation of the fire. To me, personally, this was a poignant testimony of the true aspirations of the people of South Africa. That even in the midst of adversity, our hopes, pinned on this democracy, will never diminish.
Context for Vote 2
The 2023/24 budget for Parliament (Vote 2) is set against the backdrop of declining budgets in the state as a whole.
The present downward trend is forecast to continue during the medium-term. Slower economic growth is now expected, putting more pressure on Parliament to manage its budget downwards. In recent years Parliament implemented cost containment measures and efficiency initiatives.
Although there is currently a budget shortfall, the low rate of expenditure on certain items as indicated above, has resulted in unspent funds. These funds will be used to address the shortfall for the 2023/24 budget.
Whereas the overall budget appears to be significant for 2023/24, the amount available for discretionary allocation is small. The Accounting Officer has limited control over the following allocations in the budget:
- Direct charge for Members’ remuneration;
- Transfers to political parties;
- PARMED payments;
- Facilities for Members;
- Benefits for former Members;
- Salary adjustments decided by the sector bargaining process;
- Contingent liabilities.
The composition of the budget should be reviewed to reflect the availability and use of resources, in a more accurate way.
The total budget for Parliament amounts to 4, 351 Billion Rand (R4,351B). The total allocation received from the National Treasury amounts to 3, 895 billion Rand (R3,895B). The shortfall in the amount of R456 million will be funded by retained earnings, donor funding and revenue of Parliament. This shortfall is largely driven by the cost of employment.
The National Treasury allocation for compensation of employees amounts to R965 million, whilst the projected expenditure is R1, 323 billion.
The baseline reductions have caused significant strain on the budget and will need to be addressed by cost-saving measures that Parliament has already initiated. These include a revision of Travel Policy, Voluntary Early Retirement Dispensation (VERD) and organizational realignment.
In addition, inflation is expected to remain high, driving up the cost of Parliament’s goods and services. Parliament officials will therefore have to engage National Treasury on the impending shortfalls in the allocation of the Parliament’s budget.
The Parliamentary Budget Office - a separate entity in terms of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act - receives a transfer payment under Programme 3 and will need more funding over time to function effectively.
Also included in this 2023/24 appropriation is an amount of R58 million to be utilised to achieve Parliament’s new transformational targets, which are incorporated to drive the new strategic direction toward the 7th Parliamentary Term.
Parliament will embark on preparing the Strategic Plan and budgeting for the 7th Parliament. The Officials of the NT and Parliament will engage to ensure that the 7th Strategy is fully funded.
Restoration of Parliament Destroyed infrastructure
In relation to the restoration of the infrastructure destroyed in the fire, Parliament has directed a rebuilding project, implemented through the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), and other stakeholders, including the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and the National Treasury.
The National Treasury also allocated an amount R118 Million for the 2023/2024 financial year which will include funding for office accommodation and ancillary work, referred to as “unforeseen expenditure”, during the Medium Term Budget Statement, towards this work.
National Treasury also made a firm commitment to cover the rest of the financial requirements for the restoration of its infrastructure and will allocate a total budget of R2 Billion over the course of the restoration project. We envisage that, although much of the work of the restoration will happen during the next year in 2024, the total restoration will only be finalised by 2025.
We are satisfied that the plans and efforts we have put in place for the recovery of the institution, including the new governance framework, are starting to yield results. What is even more important is that the transformation trajectory we are placing the institution on, will benefit our people’s experience of the benefits of democracy and freedom.
Allow me to thank the officials and the Management Team as led by the Secretary to Parliament for the work they have been doing to drive the recovery and business continuity of Parliament. The body of work that we are presenting here today is a product of this hard work, which at times has to be done under very difficult conditions following the two disruptive disasters of the past three years.
I also want to convey our sincere appreciation to you, Honourable Members, as the key representatives of this institution for your support, especially the guidance and oversight of the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament. It’s not always easy, but you keep us on our toes. All this to ensure proper and prudent use of public resources and to ensure accountability.
I thank our Presiding Officers in both Houses, and all political parties for your continued commitment to serve our nation and to watch over our democracy.
I thank you
30 May 2023