Parly’s future is set on debates, responsibility, accountability

2015-08-26 14:24

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Parliament should be a place where rigorous debates can be had, where the government is held responsible, and where questions can be asked when things go wrong. 

This is essential for the country’s democracy, said Parliament secretary Gengezi Mgidlana in Parliament’s draft annual performance plan for 2016-2017, which was tabled yesterday. 

“Undoubtedly, public participation, accountability and effective oversight are essential, not only to the operations of Parliament, but also for the country’s democracy,” said Mgidlana in the foreword of the draft report. 

“In any democracy the interface between the legislature and the executive is critical for ensuring that government delivers, that the executive is held to account, that policies are subject to rigorous debate and that questions are asked when things go wrong.” 

The report comes amid renewed focus on the role of Parliament, and just two months before the issue is up for discussion at the ANC’s national general council in Durban. 

Since entering the National Assembly, the Economic Freedom Fighters has challenged the boundaries of the parliamentary rules and has insisted that it is being done to keep the president and government accountable. 

To the frustration of President Jacob Zuma and the ANC, the EFF’s members of Parliament have insisted on asking Zuma questions on the Nkandla project every time the president appeared in the house. 

The EFF’s actions and the backlash from Parliament’s officials have kept sessions of the National Assembly tense, and some of the disputes have ended up in court. 

This also highlighted the tension between the legislative, the judiciary and the executive. 

While Mgidlana highlighted the importance of “rigorous debate” in Parliament, the ANC’s discussion documents show that the party is highly irritated with the EFF’s behaviour. 

“The disruptions in Parliament and some legislatures, campaigns to occupy land and others that border on illegality, are all meant to, or do in fact have the effect of,undermining the legitimacy of the ANC, of the government and ultimately of the state as such,” said the ANC. 

The party has warned its leaders in Parliament and the legislature to act in a “vigilant and assertive” manner. 

“Some of the disruptive and near-illegal campaigns may have the effect of initiating mass uprisings or other actions that may goad the state into precipitate action; as has happened with the unseemly disruptions in Parliament and, in the extreme, the Marikana tragedy.” 

According to the ANC, these forces disrupt Parliament with the goal of improving their prospects come election time. 

“This is rough, clumsy and distasteful; but it is legal political engagement all the same,” said the ANC. 

The ANC warned that its leadership status and role were under threat and that these “political forces” sought to exploit the party’s weaknesses to dislodge it. 

“Especially with regard to such issues as state capacity and effectiveness, ethical conduct, dignity and gravitas, the ANC is losing the moral high ground,” said the ANC in its discussion documents.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  parliament

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