MPs to burn the midnight oil
18 November 2008
By Deon de Lange & Christelle Terreblanche
Members of Parliament will be burning the midnight oil this week to squeeze as much as possible into the last week of parliamentary business before the national legislature retires for the year.
The National Assembly hopes to finalise about 16 pieces of legislation this week, including this year’s most controversial legislation, the bills that will finally see an end to the Scorpions.
About 30 bills are likely to get the final go-ahead this week, including the 15th Constitutional Amendment, which will finally do away with the much despised practice of floor-crossing.
If all goes smoothly, by the end of the week 81 pieces of legislation would have been processed this year – a daunting task, given that only about 100 bills had been passed during the previous three years.
However, a number of bills and legislative proposals are likely to stand over until early next year, including the Traditional Courts Bill and the 2003 Superior Courts Bill.
The most anticipated debate this week will be on the SA Police Service Amendment Bill and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill, that will see the Scorpions crushed and replaced with the new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, which will fall under the police.
Other bills to be finalised this week include new snooping regulations contained in the Regulation of Interception of Communications Amendment Bill and the Intellectual Property Rights Bill.
Also up for debate is the Broadcasting Amendment Bill and the Civil Aviation Bill, which provides for regulating air traffic during the 2010 World Cup.
The Assembly will also vote on a number of bills referred back to it by the National Council of Provinces with amendments, including the controversial Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill that aims curb drug-price rises and ensure more equitable health services.
A number of bills, including the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the National Health Amendment Bill, have been referred back to committees of the assembly for further consideration, and are unlikely to finalised ahead of the elections next year.
* This article was originally published on page 4 of The Mercury on November 18, 2008