Covid-19 and connectivity among priorities for legislature

Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature speaker Helen Sauls-August says technology is being used to continue with house sittings, committee meetings and conducting oversight
Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature speaker Helen Sauls-August says technology is being used to continue with house sittings, committee meetings and conducting oversight
Image: WERNER HILLS

About R10m of the Eastern Cape  legislature’s budget for the current financial year will be redirected towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This was revealed by the speaker of the legislature, Helen Sauls-August, in her  policy speech.

Sauls-August said the allocated budget for the legislature for the 2020/2021 financial year was  R608.4m.

She said the primary task for the term was ensuring effective use of resources and maintaining a clean audit outcome for the duration of the sixth term.

“We reiterate our commitment in having transparent supply chain management processes and we will explore from other institutions the best mechanism of opening adjudication of tenders to the public during this financial year,” Sauls-August said.

She said an allocation of R126.8m had been made for transfer payments to political parties.

“As provided by the constitution, a budget has been set aside for financial assistance to each political party represented in this legislature in proportion to its representation, for the purpose of enabling the parties to perform their functions effectively.

“The political parties are key in educating the public on the role of the legislature and its programmes.”

The rest of the budget for the 2020/2021 financial year is:

  • Administration: R232.945m; 
  • Parliamentary services: R119.268m; and
  • Direct charge: R79.147m

Sauls-August said as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were maximising the use of technology to continue with house sittings, committee meetings and conducting oversight during the state of national disaster.

She said this allowed for the use of remote audiovisual links to ensure public access to the house sittings through the Taking Legislature to the People programme in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality.

“This innovation allowed us to increase the reach and footprint of the programme by reaching and linking with more than 900 community members daily from public viewing areas in different rural towns under the Chris Hani District.

“This number was in addition to 1,000 people who attended house sittings at Enoch Mgijima daily,” she said.

She said at the beginning of March, the legislature commenced with conducting virtual committee meetings and house sittings during the lockdown period.

“The use of virtual platforms has enabled members to do their oversight and interact with provincial government specially to account to the legislature on fighting the spread of Covid-19,” she said.

“We have also extended access to the legislature, through virtual platforms, to the media, civil society, researchers and citizens who are interested in being connected to these meetings and house sittings.

“The plight of citizens in this province is calling for change of their livelihoods and they have entrusted members of this house with an enormous responsibility of changing their lives for better,” Sauls-August said.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X