State of the Nation Address on Thursday 13 February

The State of the Nation Address, Budget Speech and a conference in support of the people of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara are some of the highlights on Parliament’s first term programme for 2014, as it races against time to finalise its work before the end of this administration.

While some committees have already been at work since the start of the year, mainly attending to public hearings, the first term programme starts today.

Preparations for the State of the Nation Address, which will be held on 13 February in a joint sitting of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), are at an advanced stage, Parliament spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs says.

It will be President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma’s last State of the Nation Address to the fourth democratic Parliament, before the fifth democratic Parliament is established after the general elections this year.

The occasion – a highlight on the Parliamentary and political calendar – will again take place in the evening.

This is to afford people an opportunity to follow the proceedings, which will be broadcast live on radio and television and a number of big screens countrywide.

“Members of the public, seated in the public galleries of the NA Chamber when President Jacob Zuma delivers the address on 13 February, will be able to have the address interpreted in any of our 11 official languages. This is one of the features of the major audio and information technology upgrade, completed in the NA Chamber over the past three months,” said Jacobs.

The week preceding the State of the Nation Address is quite full, with, among others, the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development scheduled to receive a briefing by the Department of Police on the nomination of Robert McBride to head the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Also in that week, the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has scheduled a conference in support of the people of Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara.

In the run-up to the election and the dissolution of the National Assembly, a number of outstanding Bills remain to be processed. The National Assembly has 24 Bills and the National Council of Provinces has 18 to wrap up.

The programme for Parliament, agreed to in December by the multiparty Programme Committees of the National Assembly and the NCOP, also provides for questions to be put to the Executive during this term.

In 2013, there were 10 question days with 3 207 written questions and 366 oral questions put to the Executive.

According to Jacobs, of the oral questions, 18 were to the President (all replied to), 12 to the Deputy President (all replied to) and 336 to ministers.

Parliament’s records showed there was one oral and 29 written questions, to which ministers did not reply.

Parliamentary debates in 2013 included the safety and security of women and children; a statement from the Minister of Health on HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis; the use of the South African Air Force Waterkloof Base; the centenary of the 1913 Natives Land Act and the relevance of the National Key Points Act in a democratic South Africa. – Zuma

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