Ramaphosa Faces Tough Parliament Question And Answer Session Today
27 August 2020
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President Ramaphosa will find himself in the National Assembly’s hot seat today, as political opponents fire tough questions during a long-awaited question and answer session.

While Ramaphosa has welcomed initiatives aimed at exposing the rot of corruption and collusion between public officials and unscrupulous private sector stakeholders, the looting of funds intended for coronavirus relief efforts is a hot topic which is destined to dominate today’s parliamentary proceedings.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), will be quizzing the president over official reports of corruption related to departments, provincial governments and public entities during the period of the National State of Disaster.

Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), is also set to grill Ramaphosa over the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) mandate, progress and relation to the controversial ANC-led Ministerial Committee tasked with looking into coronavirus-related corruption.

On Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa welcomed the publication of “all COVID-19 related government expenditure” saying:

“By publishing these lists we have honoured our promise to the South African people. They enable proper scrutiny of the details of all companies who have received tenders for COVID-19 related services.”

The ATM, which has of late driven a social media campaign against foreign nationals working in South Africa, will ask a question in this regard.

The questions are:
ANC MP Jacqueline Mofokeng: “With reference to the work the government has done to address the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide, the adoption of the National Strategic Plan and the work towards establishing the Council on GBV, (a) what is intended to be the composition of the Council on GBV and (b) will women from rural areas with different cultural, racial and class backgrounds be represented thereon?”

DA interim leader and leader of the opposition John Steenhuisen: “Whether he has received, as directed on and/or about 6 August 2020, the comprehensive report containing the full details of all tenders and contracts that have been awarded by each national department, provincial government and public entity during the period of the national state of disaster from the committee of ministers appointed by him to deal with allegations of corruption associated with the Republic’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; if not, by what date does he envisage to receive the report; if so, (a) on what date did he receive the report and (b) what are the main findings of the report?”

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe: “Whether the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that was authorised by him to investigate any unlawful and/or improper conduct in the procurement of goods and services during the national state of disaster requested assistance from the Cabinet to provide the names of companies and the details of tenders and contracts that were awarded to national departments, provincial governments and/or public entities during the period of the national state of disaster; if not, what necessitated the appointment of a committee of six ministers, led by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, to look into alleged corruption in the procurement of goods and services sourced for the purpose of containing and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic when the SIU is well able and resourced to do the work on their own; if so, whether the SIU has ever requested such assistance from the Cabinet before; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?”

ANC MP Phoebe Abrahams: In light of the fact that the government has reached almost R3 trillion in debt exposure (a) what measures has the government put in place to ensure that it honours its commitments to finance debt repayments while at the same time maintaining expenditure on socio-economic rights (details furnished) and (b) how will government spending in the medium-term help to address the challenge of rising unemployment that deepens poverty and widens the challenge of inequality?

ATM MP Thandiswa Marawu: “In view of the many job losses in the formal employment market and the youth unemployment rate at just over 60%, what steps does he intend taking to (a) ensure that trading in the informal economy is reserved only for South Africans and (b) instruct the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Employment and Labour to review all work permits given to non-South Africans for the purpose of revoking all permits issued for work that South Africans can do?”

ANC MP Sakhumzi Somyo: “In light of the fact that Covid-19 has exposed a great deal of maladministration within the state, particularly among public servants as well as officials that are conducting business with the state, what additional measures will he put in place to root out corruption within the public sector, especially where public servants and senior political leaders are involved by having consideration that it is within the context of restoring ethics in the public service?”

The Presidency on Wednesday in part answered Steenhuisen’s question in a statement, announcing the online publication of a list of all Covid-19 related government expenditure on National Treasury’s website.

“By publishing these lists we have honoured our promise to the South African people. They enable proper scrutiny of the details of all companies who have received tenders for Covid-19 related services,” Ramaphosa said, according to the statement.

Questions are allocated proportionally to parties represented in Parliament, with the smaller parties rotating.

Therefore, the EFF does not have a question on Thursday.

Its MPs, like all the other MPs, will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.

The virtual plenary is scheduled to start at 14:00.