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DA: John Steenhuisen says vital Parliamentary committee on SASSA crisis cancelled in favour of ANC lekgotla

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DA: John Steenhuisen says vital Parliamentary committee on SASSA crisis cancelled in favour of ANC lekgotla

23rd January 2017

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I will be writing to the House Chairperson of Committees, Cedric Frolick, to seek clarity on why the chairpersons of Parliament’s portfolio committees on Social Development and Public Enterprises cancelled key committee meetings in favour of ANC party business this week.

The Portfolio Committee on Social Development was promised a vital “briefing by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) on the progress made on implementing the Constitutional Court ruling on the bidding of the new social assistance payment tender and preparation for the institutionalisation of the grant payment system”. The DA had pushed for the attendance of the Minister at this event given that the deadline for the transfer of the social grant system is fast approaching and as of yet, no clear plan has been presented to South Africa.

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This is in addition to a crucial meeting on the unfolding Eskom crisis in our local municipalities was cancelled in a similar fashion.

In both cases, DA members serving on the committees have been told that the meetings were cancelled as “invited stakeholders … will be attending the ANC National Lekgotla taking place during the same period”.

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Of even greater concern than an ANC party meeting subverting parliamentary work is the fact that the CEO of SASSA and Eskom leadership are set to attend the lekgotla.

The blurring of the state-party divide has become a feature of the ANC in recent years, best illustrated by the National Director of Public Prosecution, Shaun Abrahams, being summoned to Luthuli House in October 2016. However, inviting the managers of state entities to a party lekgotla, at the expense of Parliament, makes a mockery of the principle of separation of power.

The ANC is clearly more concerned about a party talk shop than the welfare of the 17 million South Africans who rely on social assistance from the state, or the thousands of rate-paying residents who risk having their electricity cut off.

We cannot allow ANC internal politics to dominate the parliamentary agenda and the important work that needs to be done this year. The ANC must place the country’s needs ahead of the party, not the other way around.

 

Issued by DA

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