Absentee MPs, ministers beware
Cape Town - ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga on Tuesday gave notice that consequences await absentee MPs and ministers in Parliament.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on Parliament's budget vote, he also rejected any suggestion of a parliamentary committee to oversee the presidency.
"Empty benches either by backbenchers or members of the executive of all parties erode the image and integrity of this institution and betray the trust that the people placed in us," he said.
"Honourable Speaker, we are hereby giving notice that we shall act in defence of the people and the image and integrity of this House without any further delay.
"We welcome your resolve to strengthen the oversight role of this Parliament but wish to make it abundantly clear that this oversight relates to government departments not to the presidency," he said.
The confusion in this matter was occasioned by lack of clarity on the status of the ministry of evaluation and monitoring in the presidency.
"Minister Collins Chabane has advised us that this department will be autonomous like other departments.
"Thus as parliament we shall establish a portfolio or find a committee to oversee this department not the presidency.
"We are also of the firm view that the national planning commission is not a government department that needs oversight by this Parliament.
"Let us therefore once and for all focus on oversight of government departments not the presidency," he said.
Besides, there were already many portfolio committees which over-stretched and made MPs ineffective.
"We shall have to review these committees and rationalise them."
Motshekga also supports the initiative to extend Parliament's building.
As matters stood now the environment in parliament was not conducive to productivity.
MPs had to walk long distances to attend meetings, there was shortage of appropriate offices for committee chairs and their staff, and there were no dedicated offices for big committees.
"It will be cost effective to extend the Parliament building to accommodate MPs and staff," he said.