What, if anything, do you think of parliament? I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t exactly hold the place in high regard. Aside from the occasional outburst from opposition parties, the place didn’t do much to hold my attention. It looks like a place stuck in time. There’s something uninviting about the architecture and the bronze statue of Louis Botha (an army general during the Second Boer War), in front of one of the gates, riding triumphantly into the sunset. But away from the gibberish associated with parliamentary meetings and the dodgy architectural choices, parliament is actually the heartbeat of our country’s legal and democratic affairs. Think about it: It’s where legislation is drafted; controversial bills (like the “Secrecy Bill”) are birthed; and, most importantly, where government is required by law to account for their actions. Basically, parliament is a big deal.
So, what are we doing?
For the next six months, we’ll be reporting directly from parliament, bringing you the highlights and telling you about the policy decisions that affect you. We’re partnering with the Parliamentary Monitoring Group to give you blow-by-blow details of just what happens in the chambers of “parli” and how it affects you. Think of it as having the option to stay in touch with parliamentary affairs, just without all the hollow doublespeak. For example, we just buried Senzo Meyiwa, who, at just 27, is another young person to die in a gun-related crime. Wouldn’t you like to know what our government is doing about gun control? We’ll also be showing you how the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announcement that it will turn down up to half of its applicants affects students.
We’ll decode the language for you
If you’re still wrapping your head around all of this, don’t worry. So are we. With talks of “walkouts”, “parliamentary privilege” and “points of order”, it’s easy to switch off from parliamentary proceedings. But don’t worry. Besides writing up a glossary of parliamentary terms for you (look out for that), we’ll also let you know why certain terms should matter to you. Like why you should be concerned that the “Secrecy Bill” may very well move from being just to a bill to an act. Or what it means that the president keeps getting votes of no-confidence tabled before him.
We have experts on our side
From the People’s Assembly (a website that bridges the gap between MP’s and the citizens they represent), to the good folks at Section 27 (a law centre that uses the law to promote and protect human rights), we have a team of experts at hand to make sure we’re always on top of things. In fact, Section 27 has done a lot to fight for the rights of the youth. During the textbook fiasco of 2012, they took the government to court. Two years and many court cases later, the government finally got their act together and delivered.
Now that we’re in government’s highest office, we want to know what you want to know about. Make sure you stay in touch. Tell us, are there any issues you want us to report on, maybe in education, health or women’s issues. You can tweet us your suggestions with the hashtag #LFP. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
Live from Parliament casts a youth lens on parliament and government, covering committees, policy-making, MPs, and the sitting of actual Parliament. Our team of youth journalists will be reporting Live from Parliament every week in partnership with the People’s Assembly and Indigo Trust.
The People’s Assembly connects people and their elected representatives. To stay in touch with your local MP, visit www.pa.org.za, follow them on Twitter @PeoplesAssem_SA or Facebook/PeoplesAssemblySA.