Dishonourable Members of Parliament are failing us Citizens

2015-01-15 07:40

On a normal day take a visit to the Parliament of the Republic in Plain Street, Cape Town. At the gate you will be met by friendly SAPS officers who will ask you if you have permit and if not will make you one.

With your permit and sometimes by invitation you will be able to access Parliament sessions where Committees and Clusters sit to debate, discuss and make public policy and laws that govern our republic.

Here you will see them passing laws, overseeing executive actions and on many occupations facilitating public participation by calling in and accepting submissions from members of the public from one issue to another.

One thing that will surprise you is that in these committee and cluster meetings Members of Parliament are on their best behaviour; both the opposition and the ruling party are treating each other with respect. Parliament rules are observed and respected; there is order in the house.

Then take a visit to Plain Street on a not so normal day when members sit for special sitting and the President is present.

You will be met with Media OB vans, Journalist with their small books and cameras. You will see SABC, eNCA and ANN7 journalist ready to bring you live the proceedings of the day.

And this is where all the madness and chaos begins.

The Media plays a vital role in making our government and its institutions transparent. Active citizenry is promoted through watching our representative on TV and engaging with them on Social Media. Indeed, the Media has brought about vibrancy to our democracy but there is obviously a downside to it all.

I have been fortunate to see how MPs behave when on and off camera and I am forced to conclude that the best behaviour is always when there are no journalists on site or TV News stations ready to broadcast proceedings live.

When MPs know proceedings will be on live TV it becomes about who throws the best punch lines to be used to make #tags on Twitter by people watching.

It becomes about which party should make headlines on the following day. An MP will get to the podium to deliver an address and all you could hear is about one man “President Zuma” nothing on public polices or laws they are suppose to debate and make.

And we at home we are subjected to MPs throwing punches at each other and in most cases leave us the people uninspired.

Then the whole parliament becomes about the political party those Members belong to trying to score political points.

The behaviour of opposition parties especially EFF has been a shame and has undermined the standing and status parliament has as an arm of government.

Through out the years we have had opposition parties that did not suck up to the ANC but respected the rules of parliament. South Africa’s official opposition the DA is a good example.

Within few months, EFF became a wrecking ball to Parliament and undermine all its rules. Of course, because they are opposition to ANC everyone celebrates.

Its crazy how we have become a country that celebrates disorder and anarchy and actually praise wrong doing.

In all of this its not the ANC the party the EFF undermines that is the biggest loser but us the people of South Africa which the parliament belongs to. We have been deprived of real debates about real issues that matter.

Young people have not heard anything about how parliament plans to strengthen their education system, how they will be skilled and how jobs will be created for them.

Business hasn't heard parliament talking about how government will increase public spending on infrastructure to make doing business in South Africa better to increase productivity and create jobs.

No one has heard anything but "President Zuma" from opposition members who are obsessed with him and ANC members who are protecting him.

It might be good for ratings for News Channels, good for sales for Newspapers but for us the citizens, it does not inspire confidence nor does it make us trust that our parliament has our best interests at heard.

You dont have to be an ANC supporter or a President Zuma supporter to know that disregard of rules in any institution brings about anarchy and every time cameras are on, we see this anarchy in full colour from Parliament.

If EFF believes Parliament rules should be disregarded they should try and win elections then change them. They after all represent only 6% of the electorate in Parliament.

People are talking about how our Parliament has degenerated in the 5th administration and I believe the contrary.

The real work of Parliament happens when there are no cameras looking and it is considered boring by most people. No TV News channel will bring live what is considered boring. eNCA once stopped a live broadcast of a boring session and the anchor said “We will take you back to Parliament live when things start being chaotic”

What we see on TV should not define the whole Parliament process because most of it is not shown to us.

@EsethuHasane on Twitter

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