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Modise taking no nonsense from MPs, wants committees to sit every day

Speaker Thandi Modise made it clear that she wanted committees – known as the engines of Parliament – to work hard.

FILE: National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has cracked the whip in Parliament, saying there is no reason that committees should not meet every day of the week to deal with their workload.

“Nothing says you can’t sit every day of the week as a portfolio committee and make sure that you do the work. So, this thing of a committee sitting only once a week - we should really kick against it.”

Modise made it clear that she wanted committees – known as the engines of Parliament – to work hard.

She was speaking at the first meeting of the National Assembly’s rule committee on Wednesday, where a number of decisions were taken on allocating speaking time and oral questions to parties.

The outcome of the May elections means there are now 14 parties represented in Parliament, one more than in the previous term, while some – such as the EFF, the Freedom Front Plus and the Inkatha Freedom Party – increased the number of their seats.

It was agreed at the meeting that the number of portfolio committees should be reduced in line with the slimmer Cabinet President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week.

Some opposition parties suggested splitting committees with extra-heavy workloads, such as Justice and Correctional Services, into two in order to ensure effective oversight over both departments.

There was also a strong push from opposition parties to have a new committee dedicated to the oversight of the Presidency, but that was yet to be decided.

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