News24

Sisulu 'contemptuous' of Parliament

2010-08-19 10:03

Cape Town - A senior ANC MP and NEC member confronted Lindiwe Sisulu, minister of defence, on Wednesday and said her contempt for Parliament is threatening to strip the institution of its authority.

Mnyami Booi, chair of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on defence, said (without referring to Sisulu by name) that the empowerment of ministers at the cost of their MPs and their supervisory role can “kill” Parliament.

“Such behaviour constantly brings the legislative authority into conflict with the executive authority. Is this the kind of system we want?” he asked at a committee meeting.

His reprimand follows months of back-and-forth regarding two reports about the “volatile” situation caused by soldiers’ poor working conditions.

The reports were compiled by an interim military service commission, a body Sisulu now wants to make a permanent institution.

Sisulu insists that the report is addressed to her and not the MPs, that she appointed the service commission and that their findings will only be sent to Parliament once Cabinet has approved it.

Advocate Mukesh Vassen, a Parliamentary legal advisor, told MPs he agrees with the military unions who feel the service commission will not be independent.

This is especially worrisome since the service commission will help to determine soldiers’ salaries.

Booi said the legislator is being excluded, as for example with its repeated requests for access to the controversial reports.

“The executive authority is building enormous institutions on top of its ministries, with no supervision, under the auspices of ‘ministers’ privileges’.”