Parties consider a committee overseeing the Presidency

2019-06-05 21:26
 (Jenni Evans/News24)

(Jenni Evans/News24)

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Political parties represented in Parliament is discussing an oversight committee over the Presidency.

As the Sixth Parliament slowly got into its work on Wednesday, with meetings of the Chief Whips Forum and the Rules Committee, the matter of exercising oversight over the Presidency was discussed in both committees.

Currently, there is nobody exercising oversight over the presidency, a longstanding bugbear of DA chief whip John Steenhuisen and other opposition MPs.

In the Rules Committee meeting, the assembled whips, chaired by the speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise, discussed which portfolio committees there will be in the Sixth Parliament when IFP chief whip Narend Singh suggested that there must be a committee overseeing the Presidency. 

Steenhuisen agreed. 

"It is essential," he said.

ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude also agreed.

"We understand the need for accountability over the executive," Dlakude said.

ACDP Steve Swart also agreed and recalled the "scathing judgment" Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng delivered in 2016 after Parliament failed to hold former president Jacob Zuma to account in the Nkandla matter.

At the Chief Whips Forum, held just before the Rules Committee, the parties agreed to take the matter back to their caucuses for further discussion.

The EFF, however, was not keen on a committee overseeing the Presidency.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said the portfolio committee overseeing the department of planning, monitoring and evaluation could also oversee the Presidency. 

"It's just grandstanding, really," he said. 

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi joined in, saying parties can’t demand a smaller cabinet, and then want more portfolio committees and also accused the others of grandstanding.

"We must work," he added.

Steenhuisen responded to Ndlozi, who holds a doctorate.

"Maybe with my matric I can give the honourable Ndlozi a lesson about the separation of powers," Steenhuisen sniped. 

He said it is Parliament's job to exercise oversight over the executive (which includes cabinet). 

The committee will discuss the matter of a presidential oversight committee later after parties had an opportunity to discuss it internally. 

Read more on:    politics
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