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SPEAKERS’ FORUM GETS UNDERWAY WITH A BRIEFING FROM HIGH-LEVEL PANEL

The leader of the High-Level Panel on Assessment of Key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change and former President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, has told the Speakers' Forum that the Panel's final report will be tabled at the end of July 2017.

The Speakers' Forum is currently meeting in Gauteng. The forum sits quarterly to provide the Speakers from the national legislature and the nine provincial legislatures with an opportunity to come together to determine the programme of the legislative sector. The forum is chaired by the National Assembly Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete, and the Chair of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise.

Mr Motlanthe told the forum: We are at a stage now where we are discussing the tonnes of information received during the engagements with South Africans. The task facing the panel is to ensure that the all information is included in the report.

The High-Level Panel was established by the Speakers' Forum to look at the impact of legislation on ordinary South Africans over the past 20 years.

The panel took the task given to it by the Speakers' Forum very seriously. We had to work out an approach to tackle this mammoth task by dividing it into four focus areas: inequality and unemployment, redistribution of wealth, land redistribution and tenure of security, as well as social cohesion, Mr Motlanthe said.

Mr Motlanthe took the Speakers' Forum through the methodology adopted by the panel. We had to put together all relevant legislation that spoke to the four areas. It was decided that plenary sessions would not be helpful, and the group divided itself into three working groups focusing on the land question, social cohesion and the other two issues were combined.

The panel invited written submissions from various sectors and individuals, and also organised round tables on specific aspects on the working groups' area of focus.

Over and above these, we also had outreach programmes through the support we got from provincial legislatures. The outreach programmes yielded good results, as people were able to share with us their living experiences of how legislation impacted their lives, Mr Motlanthe said.

He said people could also place their thoughts on paper and submit them to the panel support staff. He said that the panel had requested technological assistance from Microsoft to assist with the translation of all submissions.

We are now getting to the process of interpreting the data in earnest. It is important that we share with the Speakers' Forum what has been coming out of the provinces, Mr Motlanthe said.

One view that was consistent in all the provinces is the belief that traditional leaders do not own the land. If the land question is not addressed properly, people with no title will end up with titles and that will have an impact on the role of traditional leaders in rural areas, Mr Motlanthe said.

Addressing the Forum earlier, Ms Mbete said that one of the most important issues this year is to consider ways and means to improve service to the people. This should be about policy engagement and whether it is necessary to revisit current policy, mechanisms and legislation passed over the previous 20 years. Also to consider whether these have a desirable impact to create a better life for our people and, if not, why not, she said.

Parliament's managerial delegation to the Speakers' Forum comprises the Secretary to Parliament, Mr Gengezi Mgidlana, and his deputies, Ms Baby Tyawa and Advocate Modibedi Phindela, as well as divisional and senior managers.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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