eNCA: MPs return to Parliament April 2014

"When Zuma effectively showed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela the finger when he shrugged off the protector’s findings that he had unduly benefited from the R246-million enhancements to his Nkandla residence, a parliamentary committee was set up to scrutinize the president’s response.

As per the instructions of the speaker of the house Max Sisulu, the committee should have completed its work and reported to parliament by April 30. The speaker had timeously asked political parties represented in Parliament to name their members who would sit on the committee. This was about three weeks ago.

In terms of parliamentary rules, the parties had 10 days to name their representatives to the Nkandla committee; the party named its seven members eight days after Sisulu’s instruction. Opposition parties, on the other hand, had already named their members by April 22.

The committee met last Thursday to elect its chairman, and members of the ANC immediately excused themselves from further discussion saying they needed time to read the 500 page document before they could entertain any discussion on the matter. Fair enough.

But by Monday some members publicly said they hadn’t read the report. Clearly questions had to be asked if what they were doing was a delaying tactic – deliberately dragging the matter on until time was up. You guessed it, time is up and no work has been done on the matter – we have elections next Wednesday. After the election of a new president, he will, as the rules dictate, have to dissolve the current parliament.

Cedric Frolick, the ANC chair of the committee, has said the matter would have be resuscitated by a new parliament. Who knows if that parliament would be interested in the matter at all? This is, after all, a matter for this current administration which has thus far done a shambles of a job in terms of accountability. The behavior of ANC members of parliament on this matter shows nothing but contempt for the electorate. They have openly closed ranks on Nkandla.

During debates around the matter, ANC member of parliament Buti Manamela did not mince his words about his loyalties, or where his mandate comes from. When DA MP James Selfe accused governing party MPs on the committee to submitting to the will of Luthuli House,

Manamela said: “I plead guilty. I am not here representing my jacket or my wife or my kids. I am here representing the party on whose list I appear.”

Arrogance of power, or a misunderstanding of his role in parliament. When members of parliament are sworn in, they commit themselves to upholding the constitution of the republic, and not the flag of the party they represent. They are accountable to the citizenry of the country; and not narrow party interests.

It is such a great pity that such a powerful institution seems to beholden to an individual currently on the seat of power, rather than to the citizens whose interests they are supposed to represent and protect as members of a democratically elected parliament.

Certainly not a proud moment in our nascent democracy."


Wednesday 30 April 2014