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Coronavirus - South Africa: Gauteng gears up for a digital legislature

The Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) has been on recess since March 24, until 14 April 2020. The recess coincided with the announcement of the lockdown by the President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Yesterday, 15 April 2020 the Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Honourable Ntombi Mekgwe met with Presiding Officers, Leaders of Political Parties represented at the Legislature and GPL Management. The purpose of the meetings was to assess and share plans for GPL to continue with its business as required by the Constitution during lockdown.

The GPL Administration which has been working from home during the lockdown period, shared a concept document on the Digital Legislature.

To accommodate the Digital Legislature, the Presiding Officers and Leaders of different political parties represented at the Legislature have identified gaps with the current rules and as such the Legislature has approved the rules for a Virtual legislature. The rules will guide the Legislature on how to conduct virtual House Sittings, Committee meetings and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) business. According to the GPL term programme, the Portfolio Committee on Finance and the NCOP are scheduled to process Division of Revenue Bill (DORA).

A virtual briefing by National Treasury to all National and Provincial Finance Committees was conducted through the unprecedent virtual digital platforms. This briefing is historic - and will hopefully inform other NCOP processes to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of travel.

In the upcoming weeks the GPL will be launching various digital platforms which will be accessible to all the people of Gauteng targeting all the different living standard measures. The platforms will ensure maximum public participation and oversight, which are critical to GPL Mandates. GPL has previously relied on the conventional methods which largely included physical communal venues.

In addition, since the announcement of the lockdown by the President, GPL Members and Staff have been working from home and to-date, significant progress has been achieved in preparation for the end of the year reporting and audit preparations. In this regard, the Speaker expressed her gratitude to all GPL Members who have been hard at work in all the five regions of Gauteng to support those who need help during these difficult time, and Staff for the progress in achieving planned Institutional activities.

Speaker Mekgwe noted that, to date, there has not been a reported case of any Legislature Member or Staff infected with Covid-19 and encouraged all to continue abiding with the all measures to fight the virus.

She expressed her concerns on the increasing number of reported cases of people who are Covid1-19 positive and those who died from the pandemic. She wished those who are infected a speedy recovery and conveyed her condolences to the families of the deceased.

Speaker Mekgwe expressed appreciation to the Gauteng Provincial Government under the leadership of the Premier, David Makhura, all Mayors, volunteers and all health practitioners for the hard work, professionalism and dedication, under very difficult circumstances.

The Speaker urges the people of Gauteng to adhere to the lockdown regulations, like staying at home, washing hands with water and soap and exercising precautionary measures to fight the pandemic and flatten the curve.

We can count on all the people of Gauteng that, if we all take responsibility, it is possible, we can beat the virus, she concluded.

Issued by:
Gauteng Provincial Legislature

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