The South African parliament made history on Friday night with its very first virtual committee meeting.
The meeting took place in the form of an online conference through a computer application (app), and dealt with the government’s handling of the coronavirus issue.
The minister of health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, and some senior officials, addressed the parliamentary portfolio committee on health. Its format was historical and an indication of how parliamentary review can take place during the period of complete seclusion.
After the chair of the portfolio committee on health, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo (ANC), initially tried to prevent the media from reporting directly on the virtual meeting, intervened at the request of National Press Gallery chairman Andricwe Makinana, chair of the National Assembly, Cedric Frolick allowed to dial in.
The meeting could only begin 25 minutes after the initial commencement after everyone turned in successfully and silenced their dogs and children.
After that, the meeting went fairly well, although slowly because of speaking engagements and the opportunity to ask questions was difficult to allocate without eye contact.
In addition to Friday night’s coronavirus figures, Mkhize also pleaded that face masks should be worn as often as possible.
The successful outcome of the meeting, and the fact that several parliamentary highs that have nothing to do with the portfolio committee on health, also contributed to this, meant that in parliamentary circles it could be thought of as a model for the future – at least until the period of seclusion is abolished.