13 August 2020 - NW1419
Hill-Lewis, Mr GG to ask the President of the Republic
With reference to the reply of his Parliamentary Counsellor, Dr G W Koornhof, on 31 May 2020 to a letter addressed to him from Mr G G Hill-Lewis, which stated that the contents of the letter had been noted, what is his position on (a)(i) including certain clear performance expectations relating to the speed and quality of replies to parliamentary questions and (ii) the regular attendance at Oral Question Sessions, as targets in the performance agreements concluded with each member of his Cabinet, (b) reprimanding the 15 members of his Cabinet with the highest percentage of unanswered questions on a quarterly basis and (c) delegating additional responsibilities to the Leader of Government Business to empower him to enforce Rule 145(5) of the National Assembly to ensure that questions are responded to within the 10 working days provided for by the specified Rule, instead of just delivering a report to Cabinet on the number of unanswered questions; (2) whether he has or will institute disciplinary steps against the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr N C Dlamini-Zuma, as his appointee in terms of section 91(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, for failing in her responsibility to account to Parliament for the exercise of her powers and the performance of her functions by not responding meaningfully and fully to any parliamentary questions; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?
The practice of Parliamentary Questions to the Executive for written or oral reply is an important part of the exercise of accountability and transparency.
As my Parliamentary Counsellor, Dr Gerhard Koornhof indicated in his correspondence to the Honourable Member of 31 May 2020:
“Section 92(2) of the Constitution is clear that the Members of the Cabinet are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions.
“Similarly, Chapter 10 of the National Assembly Rules are clear on questions, including questions to Ministers, the monitoring of replies to questions, unanswered questions for oral reply, questions for oral reply standing over and questions for written reply.”
It is my understanding that Chapter 10 of the NA Rules is intended to ensure the effective functioning of this practice and to ensure that any problems are addressed between the Speaker and the Leader of Government Business.
I would therefore suggest that any matters relating to the reply to Parliamentary Questions be attended to in the manner prescribed in the Rules.
In addition, I have requested that these issues be raised for discussion in the next report to Cabinet by the Leader of Government Business.