DA to lobby Parliament to have oversight over the Presidency

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DA leader John Steenhuisen.
DA leader John Steenhuisen.
Jan Gerber, News24
  • The DA is ready to propose an oversight committee over the Presidency next year.
  • The party also wants to strengthen Parliament's oversight.
  • The DA also wants Parliament operations to return to normal, bearing Covid-19 protocols in mind.

The DA is ready to propose the establishment of an oversight committee over the Presidency in the new year.

At a press briefing to provide a review of the just-about concluded parliamentary year, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the party's documents were ready for a presentation to the National Assembly's Rules Committee to ask for the establishment of such a committee.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the Presidency was the only budget vote that didn't have an oversight committee.

"There is no reason why not," he said.

He used the fact that the Presidency had approved Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula's controversial flight to Harare, on which she "ferried" ANC officials, as an example of something such a committee would look into.

"Clearly, there should be some accounting to Parliament," he said.

He said next year, the DA would launch a programme to strengthen Parliament's oversight work.

He said there were "too many things that committees let slide".

DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said there needed to be an overall change in Parliament's culture, where some members of the executive did not take the institution seriously.

READ | By-elections: ANC wins wards from DA, smaller parties but EFF is biggest loser

Mazzone said the party will also agitate for more meetings between Ramaphosa and opposition leaders, particularly after Cabinet meetings.

Steenhuisen said, if he were to give Parliament a mark out of 10, it would be four-and-a-half.

Slow

"I think Parliament was too slow out of the blocks to adapt to the new normal. The lights were off in Parliament for far too long and the executive was allowed to get away with far too much," he said.

He said, when Parliament did get going, there were some successes. He also said he didn't take President Cyril Ramaphosa's "line in the sand" about corruption seriously, as some "compromised" individuals, like corruption accused ANC MP Bongani Bongo, still sat in the ANC benches and chaired a committee.  

In the accompanying statement, Steenhuisen said: "While the DA made great strides in showing progress and adaptability, the government showed concerning signs of centralisation via the illogical regulations of the National Command Council which instituted rules ranging from the laughable to the downright dangerous.

"Despite the many challenges the perpetual State of Disaster has brought, and the efforts of government to seemingly circumvent the oversight role that Parliament plays, the DA has continued with every effort to hold government to account."

Questions

Meanwhile, DA leader in the National Council of Provinces Cathlene Labuschagne recalled how Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma answered a slew of questions by stating that the information would be provided once obtained. DA MP George Michalakis asked whether she knew where the capital of South Africa was. This had received the same answer.

Mazzone said the DA would like Parliament's operations to return to being fully open and functional, bearing Covid-19 protocols in mind and accommodating MPs with comorbidities.

"We know how to sanitise and wear masks," she said, adding that Parliament was probably the most sanitised place in the country.

"Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon, we must learn to live with the virus."

Gwarube paid the party's respects to two of its MPs who had died this year - Belinda Bozzoli and Thandi Mpambo-Sibhukwana.

"Throughout this pandemic, Belinda fought passionately in the interests of learners and students across the country, while Thandi fought tirelessly to alleviate poverty and unemployment before sadly passing away in June," said Gwarube.

"We send strength and condolences to Belinda and Thandi's family and friends and to all those who have lost loved ones during this time."

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