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Parliament given thumbs down on how it conducted business

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Keeping the executive on its toes, and holding President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet to account, is one of the key responsibilities of Parliament. This duty rests on all 400 MPs, across party lines. With the sixth Parliament in the process of wrapping its work, opposition parties have given the institution a thumbs down on how it conducted this business.

Opposition parties say they have tried to stick to their mandate of holding the executive to account. But with opposition numbers standing at 170 seats, versus the ruling parties 230 seats, there was always going to be a push-back.

“Various other things like asking questions to the executive, whether written or oral questions. Ministers arrive in the house and they answer in whatever way, presiding officers don’t necessarily hold them to account, so I think in terms of what we have been able to initiate I’m incredibly proud of the work of the opposition,” says Siviwe Gwarube, DA Chief Whip.

“It depended on which minister was appearing before us. You have some ministers who do well, and who take their job seriously, as members of the executive who whenever an opportunity presented itself for them to avail themselves to come to Parliament for any issue. Those ministers will be here answering questions. There are some ministers who run away from accountability,” says Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, UDM Chief Whip.

“We could have done better in terms of keeping the executive to account. I think we did not do that very effectively but it’s part of the reality of how Parliament was functioning or not functioning,” says Dr Corne Mulder, FF+ Chief Whip.

“We don’t believe that Parliament has succeeded in sufficient oversight over the executive. The Zondo Commission clearly pointed out how Parliament failed dismally in holding the executive to account and preventing state capture and corruption in the last five years, we’ve seen crisis after crisis,” says Steve Swart, ACDP Chief Whip.

Parliament has also received flak from outside.

“The integrity of this institution is extremely important for the strength of our democracy, and we’ve seen in recent years, how Parliament has been embattled. It has been accused of neglecting its primary constitutional responsibilities of holding the executive to account,” says Lawson Naidoo, Executive Director of CASAC.

Parliament says the true test of democracy is the extent to which it can ensure that government remains answerable to the people.

This is done by maintaining constant oversight of government’s actions and performance. Opposition parties say they failed in this, when the ANC voted against a probe into the Phala Phala saga involving President Cyril Ramaphosa.

They add, the failure to establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate Eskom, as another blot on its performance.

Source: SABC News

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