Bring dignity back to Parliament
23 May 2018
Since 2009, the dignity in South Africa’s Parliament that is supposed to create a better country for all by means of meaningful debating has been disintegrating and Parliament now finds itself in a place where there is no mutual respect between Members of Parliament.
The level of debates has also deteriorated because, on the one hand, members do not pay attention to what is said and, on the other hand, the few minutes available to parties to speak are mostly used for slinging mud and speaking in sound bites.
The fact that the ANC is given so much time to speak while other parties’ time is reduced to a mere three minutes or even less also contributes to the problem. The formula used to allocate parties’ time to speak must be fair.
It is disturbing that the ineffective Members of Parliament have sunk even lower to the level of hurling abuses, insults and even personal threats at one another while poorly disguised racism is at the order of the day. It cannot be tolerated any longer and Parliament will have to step in to once again establish respect among members.
The oversight role of Parliament must also be addressed. The Constitution grants Parliament the power to exercise an oversight role over the executive authority; but in a critical moment in history, Parliament failed to fulfil its role with the Nkandla-saga where the members of the ruling party protected the former President Jacob Zuma at all costs.
When the winds of change suddenly started to blow within the ANC, the party seamlessly doubled back and started combating state capture. Parliament’s newfound zeal to eradicate state capture is encouraging, but why where the ANC’s innerworkings needed to get us to this point? That is not how Parliament is supposed to function at all.
Now that there are positive signs, the FF Plus wants to call on Parliament to keep functioning as it is at present, but the party would also like to request that more attention will be paid to holding the executive authority accountable.
It is in the interest of the whole of South Africa that Members of Parliament, even if they do represent the ruling party, will recognise their responsibility and do their duty.
Lastly, the FF Plus wants to thank the parliamentary staff – from cleaners to librarians – for their hard work and support in what can sometimes be difficult circumstances. These people deserve respect and credit and Members of Parliament must realise that the institution cannot function without them.
Issued by Anton Alberts, FF Plus chairperson, 23 May 2018