DA, EFF relationship will help Parliament – Steenhuisen

Cape Town –  DA chief whip John Steenhuisen thinks the party’s new-found co-operation with the EFF will have an impact on their relationship in the National Assembly and will be good for the country.

Past friction in the National Assembly helped the parties develop a rapport, he said from the DA’s offices in Parliament on Monday.

“I think it was our parliamentary relationship that acted as the forerunner for the parties working together in the municipalities.

“Despite very deep ideological gulfs on matters of the economy and land, we were able to bridge those differences here at Parliament, where it was to the benefit of democracy and the Constitution.

“I have no doubt it will have some impact, and I personally would like to see more collaboration between all opposition parties, given the fact that the electorate sent a very clear message in these elections.”

Strong ANC

Steenhuisen is certain his party’s alignment with the EFF will be crucial to keeping the ruling ANC accountable in Parliament.

“I think we have been stronger and our multi-party Constitution has been stronger when opposition parties stand together.

“We won’t always find ourselves on matters in the national debate, but we have a duty to find each other where we can, especially that we’re up against a very strong and determined opponent here in the ANC in Parliament.”

The EFF could not immediately be reached for comment.

Legislation drafts ‘shoddy’

Parliament’s recent drafting of legislation was “embarrassing”, Steenhuisen said.

“For too long, Parliament has all but abdicated its responsibility by ramming through poorly-drafted legislation that has been improperly passed,” he said.

He cited issues with the Expropriation Bill, the Performing Animals Protection Bill, and the Land Restitution Bill. The president or the industry had returned all of them to Parliament for clarity.

In some sittings of the National Council of Provinces, there were less than 30 members present when these bills were passed, making it improper and an unofficial quorum, he said.

Steenhuisen said the party would write to the presiding officers to ensure such “shoddy” errors did recur.

The party's priorities during the third term would include resolving the continued Nehawu staff wage dispute, reforming the ethics committee, establishing an inquiry into the SABC, and the “long over-due” appointment of an inspector-general of intelligence.

‘No time for rest’

Steenhuisen blamed the strike by Parliament’s Nehawu-affiliated workers on Speaker Baleka Mbete, and hoped a resolution could be reached in the current term.

“The amount of work before Parliament is immense. It is thus imperative that the speaker acts decisively to end the staff dispute.

“Who is actually running this institution? The constitutionally-appointed speaker as the head of Parliament, or is it the secretary of Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, who seems to have a direct line to Luthuli House to carry out its instructions?

“The DA and indeed the entire opposition benches are returning to Parliament victorious and ready to hold the executive to account at every possible opportunity.

“This is not a time for rest, but rather it is a time to fight for our country and our Constitution like never before,” he said.

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