Scopa wants more teeth

2009-09-30 21:07

Cape Town - Parliament needs to be given extra powers to take action against lying officials, the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) said in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Themba Godi said it is widely recognised that the current law on oversight did not go far enough and needed amendment.

"What continuously comes out is that people feel that we talk and at the end of the day transgressing officials only get the wag of the finger," Godi said.

"As Parliament we cannot encroach on the sphere of the executive. However, there is recognition that the Privileges and Immunities Act does not go far enough and might need amendment.

"Chapter 21 of the Act talks about misrepresentation by witnesses, it doesn't go far enough."

Urges action from Speaker

Godi said he had written to the office of the Speaker of Parliament calling for action against officials who had "misinformed" Scopa.

The "second-guessing" of officials had brought the oversight processes in Parliament into question.

But Godi said: "The ability of the Speaker's Office to take active measures is highly limited."

In his letter Godi demanded that ministers should indicate what they were going to do about officials who gave false information to the committee.

"We are still waiting for a response," he said.

'No one getting off scot-free'

He said ministers were accounting to some of the committees in Parliament, but not Scopa.

"Scopa is part of the parliamentary committees and there is no reason why they cannot account to it."

He said Scopa had written to Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane requesting that ministers should have to appear before Scopa from "the financial year under review".

"We made a request. We are waiting for a response from his side so that we can explain our position.

"We are not letting anyone get off scot-free," he added.