Cape Town,Parliament, Tuesday 03 June 2020 – The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Mr Amos Masondo, has expressed his happiness over the success of the “innovative” first completely virtual plenary sitting of the House today.
The NCOP held its first, exclusively virtual, plenary to approve, amongst others, the 2020 Division of Revenue Bill; the ratification of two SA treaties with Bangladesh, the provisional suspension of a Pretoria chief magistrate and the removal of a Johannesburg magistrate this afternoon.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has not only forced people to change the way they interact with each other, but it has spurred the legislative sector as a whole into finding innovative ways to continue with its business,” said Mr Masondo.
About 80 permanent and special delegates to the NCOP, among them the Premiers of the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga, attended the first completely virtual plenary of the NCOP. Also attending the plenary were various Members of the Executive Councils (MECs) for Finance from the nine provinces and councillors representing the South African Local Government Association, commonly known as Salga.
“Our first, historic and completely virtual plenary, went very well today and I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of all involved from Members of the House to the support teams working behind the scenes. It is a historic day, for the first time a Bill of such far-reaching importance such as the Division of Revenue Bill, which permits for the equitable distribution of revenue across the three spheres of government, is being adopted by the House for assent by the President through a virtual sitting” added Mr Masondo.
Last week, the NCOP held a virtual briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, briefing the Council delegates.
The NCOP virtual sitting is part of Parliament’s unprecedented and accelerated utilization of communications technology to advance the programme of Parliament under the difficult and complex conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thus far over 200 meetings of Parliamentary committees have been held to carry out lawmaking, oversight and citizen participation responsibilities.
Last week, the National Assembly conducted its first hybrid sitting with close to 300 Members of Parliament participating.