Speech on various annual reports of the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management on Parliament on the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

International Agreements on certain issues must be ratified by Parliament

Dec 5, 2023

House Chair

The ACDP would like to commend the Executive Authority and all staff on the unqualified audit outcome with no material findings which Parliament has sustained for the past nine years, and this despite many challenges facing the institution.

We do note, however, that there will be a R200 million budget reduction that was announced in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, and this will, undoubtedly, have a negative impact on the core business of Parliament and we need to be briefed how the institution will absorb this budget reduction.

The ACDP also shares concerns about the way Parliament is funded in the same way as government departments. This is the same issue facing the Judiciary and the slow progress in negotiating with the Minister of Finance towards a funding process that is appropriate to Parliament remains of grave concern.

We also share the concerns about the salary about Mr George and we look forward to answers in this regard.

Chairperson, given the funding constraints, one of the issues that we need to consider is our oversight — our oversight over the Executive, and we can clearly improve our oversight.

A sufficient and significant deficiency in oversight relates to Parliament’s functions in terms of section 231 of the Constitution and while the negotiating and signing of international agreements is the responsibility of the Executive, international agreements referring to certain issues need to be ratified by this Parliament, and in my experience, Parliament signs these agreements and they only come to Parliament some years later, and it is only then that we have a say over these agreements.

A case in point is the 2022 Amendments to the International Health Regulations which are at present being negotiated by the World Health Organisation. These treaties will have far-reaching implications for the sovereignty of states when it comes to global health issues.

The ACDP and other parties have raised concerns in Parliament about this issue and, following a parliamentary question, we were given the assurance that the pandemic treaty would be brought to Parliament for ratification but it is not clear about these Amendments to the International Health Regulations.

This is extremely concerning given the far-reaching implications of those amendments and I’d urge every parliamentarian to look at that. It is for this reason that the ACDP and others including Honourable Shaik from the NFP, have formerly lodged objections with the World Health Organisation, and we trust that this aspect will receive more urgent attention by Parliament in exercising its oversight function.

I thank you.

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