Our president has been hard at work at parliament from long before its official opening, speedily assenting to as many Bills as he can before the fifth democratic parliament closes on 29 March ahead of the election, leaving outstanding Bills to lapse - or become the problem of the incoming parliament.
At the last count before going to press parliament had 57 Bills in the queue, but it's hard to keep up with the president, who is fully into law-making overdrive. On just one day during recess, January 16, he assented to five Bills, but they were all Money Bills, which makes them kind of urgent.
A few days later he shook the nation by signing into law the Political Party Funding Bill [B 33 - 2017] - Act No 6 of 2018 ‑ which had been awaited for more than 20 years.
Alas, it is not the only would-be law that is still in for the long haul. Still waiting is the perennial Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which has been back and forth between the Chambers and president since it was introduced in 2013. It is apparently now with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), which looks like progress, but it's got this far in the past, before drawing another "back to start" card. Let's say it is probably safer to not place any bets on it becoming law any time soon.
And in case you sometimes wonder what has become of the Info Bill, which even former president Jacob Zuma knew better than to sign when it reached his desk in 2013. Two years later he could still not shake off the pesky Protection of State Information Bill. The peeved former president said of this persistent Bill, "I sent it back and it was brought back [to me] with some corrections. Some people have brought more issues and the minister in the state security has also brought some issues." It was all the fault of the media, he complained: "The media wants to do as they wish. It's not fair. Particularly because media, more than any of the sectors, are the ones who talk and write 24 hours."
Maybe he thought journalists must at some time shut up because he confidently assured the public about four years ago that a few "matters are being processed. Once we've concluded that, we will then deal with the matter."
Not so, as it has turned out. This Bill still lurks somewhere at the bottom of the presidential in-tray, and Ramaphosa is unlikely to touch it with a barge pole.
These people will change the Constitution
Parliament has announced the names of the members will serve on the Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution. This important ad hoc committee will be responsible for drawing up the amendment to the Constitution to clarify and entrench the legislation that will specifically provide for expropriation of land without compensation They are:
ANC Voting Members: Ms AT Didiza, Mr VG Smith, Mr MSA Maila, Mr PJ Mnguni, Ms LM Maseko, Ms MR Semenya. ANC Non-Voting Members: Ms PC Ngwenya-Mabila, Mr PDN Maloyi; Democratic Alliance Voting Members: Dr A Lotriet, Ms TM Mbabama, Non-Voting Members: Ms G Breytenbach, Mr LV Magwebu; Economic Freedom Fighters Voting Member: Mr JS Malema. Non-Voting Member: Mr NF Shivambu; Other Parties Voting Members: Inkosi EM Buthelezi, Inkosi RN Cebekhulu.
What are the chances?
The ever vigilant Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has detected an individual using someone else's ID number. Yes, this happens a lot in South Africa, but this time it's different because the department used its fingerprint verification system, known as Hanis or the Home Affairs National Identification System, with additional help from the new Smart ID card, to sort this out.
The department believes defrauding a person of their ID number is about to get much more difficult, thanks to Hanis. In answer to a question in parliament, the DHA warned that anyone attempting to apply for an ID using an identity number already allocated to another person to whom a Smart ID card has been issued will be immediately identified.
The department conceded false registration attempts are a common occurrence, but says in cases where applicants timeously notify the department with the necessary applications with detailed information and/or supporting documents so that a comprehensive investigation may be conducted this can be stopped.
What also helped in this case is that this was no fraud attempt. It was just one of those things: two South Africans with exactly the same name and birthday, and one submitted her identity document. Thanks to Hanis it was detected that she was not the rightful owner of the identity number. The story has a happy ending as we are told that the person was subsequently allocated her own unique identity number, and no longer has to share an identity number with another person.
More from Home Affairs
The Minister of Home Affairs was able to tell parliament that there are there are 385,579 migrants in the country who have valid visas to temporarily reside in South Africa, although it could not say how many per province. It could also confirm that 11,657 undocumented migrants were recorded during the period 1 April 2018 to 23 November 2018. This was the number of people detained at holding facilities or identified at ports of entry. We are also informed that the Department's National Immigration Information System (NIIS) had 125,999 refugees recorded as at the end of 2017.
But what the DHA cannot tell us is how many illegal immigrants grace our shores, which is the one thing we really need to know.
Train burnings catch on
In the past four years, 215 passenger trains have been burned throughout the country. We don't have figures showing the increase over time and at what point burning trains became a regular occurrence because PRASA only started collecting detailed information on train burnings from 2015. Prior to that train burnings were classified under general vandalism.
Most train burnings from 2015 to 2018 have occurred in the Western Cape with a total of 174 during that time, compared to 36 in Gauteng and four in KwaZulu-Natal. It appears burning of trains has not caught on in the other provinces.
Good news but little hope
The Ministry of Mineral Resources believes that South Africa has mineral reserves worth an estimated R2.5 trillion currently lying beneath the soil of the Republic. It is not known what type of minerals they are or where they are located, but the ministry is confident that with ongoing exploration "there is room for more reserves to be discovered and validated".
New CSIR board appointed
The Minister of Science and Technology informed the National Assembly that she has appointed the following people to the Board of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in terms of section 7 (1) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Act, 1988 (Act No. 46 of 1988), as amended by the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No. 7 of 2014), with effect from 1 January 2019 until 31 December 2022:
Prof Thokozani Majozi; Dr Ramatsemela Masango; Dr Christine Render; Mr Stafford Masie; Mr Cassim Shariff; Dr Amber-Robyn Childs, Mr Joel Netshitenzhe; Mr Phindile Baleni; Dr Vuyo Mthethwa; and Ms Tiny Makoma Mokhabudi. This announcement has been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology.