The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had its last sitting for the Parliamentary year. Delegates of the NCOP ended their work with the customary farewell speeches.
Like their counterparts in the National Assembly, they also reflected on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the country and how Parliament functioned.
There is not a single portion of society that has not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chief Whip of the NCOP, Seiso Mohai, paid tribute to those who lost their lives to the virus.
“We dip our heads in honour of those who passed due to COVID-19; they remain a permanent part of this August House. Our house remains with their families. We also honour those who survived the demon of COVID-19 .”
The lastest on the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa:
He lauded his colleagues across the political spectrum for cooperation during the year.
“This year alone, there were critical moments when we spoke in one voice on fundamental issues affecting people across provinces. Supreme test of leadership, also honest in expressing differences in policy as evidence of a multi-party Parliament this house is, inspiring and showing the maturing nature of our democracy.”
Democratic Alliance (DA) delegate, Cathy Labuschagne, says while the pandemic had a devastating effect, it had some benefits. She says Parliament should adjust to the new way of doing business.
“Virtual meetings can stay since they are cost-effective.”
Wearing a mask, sanitising and keeping a safe distance has become known as the new normal. However, Freedom Front Plus member, Armand Cloete, has cautioned against what he calls another new normal.
“It can’t be normal for politicians to make bigoted statements, guard against racism.”
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) member, Mmabatho Mokause, decried the several instances of corruption that has come to light around funds allocated to fight the pandemic.
“Vast majority of people, black people, suffered crippling anxiety not knowing where next meal will come from, whether the hospitals, dysfunctional for years would be able to treat them if they got sick. The whole nation looked on as funds and resources meant for the poor were again redirected to bottomless pockets of the ruling elite, 2021 must be the year people cement the break up with the party that has overseen their suffering. “
The chairperson of the NCOP, Amos Masondo, added that he was proud of how Parliament managed to continue with its work.
“Connectivity still an issue, we reframed rules to make possible virtual sittings. All steps were taken to ensure safety, I am not one to sing praises but I’m happy to say, we have done sterling work, for example, we passed 21 bills this year. “