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SA: Statement by Mathole Motshekga, African National Congress Chief Whip, year-end statement (11/12/2012)

11th December 2012

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/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip is satisfied with the work of the
African National Congress in Parliament during the year 2012. We have
continued to deepen the activist character of Parliament by intensifying
robust and fearless oversight in both the Houses of Parliament and
through constituency outreach programmes.

For the third consecutive year, the ANC in Parliament received an
unqualified financial audit report.  The consistent clean audits of
Caucus finance means that the ANC in Parliament not only expects the
same from those it holds accountable, but it is also leads by example in
this regard. The healthy financial status also means we continue to
sufficiently fund our parliamentary programmes, thereby ensuring that,
as part of this institution, we continue to offer a high quality service
to the people.


Parliament in 2012 grappled with a total of 30 draft legislations in the
National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), 13
of which were signed into law by President Jacob Zuma. This number of
laws passed by parliament this year added significantly to the
approximately 2200 progressive laws passed by this Parliament since
1994. This indeed further enhanced our country’s democratic
transformation process.

Within parliamentary Houses and committees, our members have led a
fearless and robust oversight over members of the executive. There has
been a significant improvement in various areas of parliamentary
oversight mechanisms, such as motions without notice, notices of motions
and members’ statements. We have surpassed any other party in this
regard: number of motions we proposed for debate stood at 138; the total
number of statements presented in the House was 106; and motions without
notice totalled 34. These are critical tools for parliamentary
oversight, which MPs use to pose probing questions to government on
service delivery programmes. We will continue to employ various
mechanisms to ensure that oversight is pursued with vigour and firmness
within various parliamentary structures.

When this current parliamentary term began in 2009, we prioritised the
transformation of our parliamentary constituency system to ensure that
our constituency programmes meet the challenges of the activist
Parliament, which we said must be the mainstay of our parliamentary
oversight to ensure quality services to the people.We transformed our
264 parliamentary constituency offices (PCOs) into one-stop multipurpose
centres and put in place monitoring systems to ensure our 299 MPs are
rooted amongst the communities they represent.

The year 2012 therefore presented us with an opportunity to conduct a
midterm review and assessment of the effectiveness of our system. In
this regard, four out of nine provinces have already been visited to
ensure that our PCOs have the capacity to play the role they are
supposed to play within the communities they are located. This ensures
that where challenges rear their head they are immediately addressed to
ensure that community concerns are addressed before they snowball into
violent protests. This PCO review programme will be concluded early next
year. To date, the ANC remains the only party in Parliament with
existing PCOs and a functional constituency system that links the people
with Parliament. During constituency periods MPs of parties such as the
DA sit in air-conditioned offices in Cape Town and flood the media with
an avalanche of press statements, whilst our MPs attend to constituency
issues and interact with the people on the ground.

One of the primary tasks of the legislative arm of the state is the
advancement of nation-building and social cohesion. The formation of the
Parliamentary Interfaith Council ensured that Parliament plays a
critical role in this regard, forging partnerships with faith-based
movement to tackle challenges facing our society. At least three
inter-faith confereinstitution strengthened working relationship with the
religious sector, which represent over 80 percent of our society.

The ANC fully supports parliament’s attendance and leave policy, which
we believe will go a long way in curbing the problem of absenteeism and
poor attendance by MPs across all political parties in this institution.
In its current draft, the policy includes sanctions against defaulters
which range from fines and salary deductions to expulsion from
Parliament. We will urge parties to adopt this important policy to
ensure that Parliament’s dignity, accountability and discipline are
preserved.

To bolster the quality of debate in Parliament and ensure that all
parties contribute meaningfully to debates in the House, the ANC has
donated some of its speaking time to smaller opposition parties.
Previously, we sought only to augment smaller parties’ speaking time
during the post State of the Nation Address debates. The parliamentary
rule of allocating parties speaking time proportional to the number of
seats they occupy in the House means smaller parties with one or two MPs
may only speak for one or two minutes, while bigger parties may speak up
to 20 minutes. We will continue to urge other bigger parties, who have
regrettably resisted this gesture thus far, to also do the same in the
interest of deepening parliamentary participatory democracy.

The multiparty Chief Whips’ Forum, which is chaired by the Chief Whip of
the Majority Party and is attended by chief whips from parties in
parliament, sat regularly to deal with programming matters for
scheduling in the National Assembly. While this forum was only limited
to National Assembly chief whips, it has now been reconstituted to
include party chief whips in the NCOP.

It is unfortunate that this forum has not been able to forge better
inter-party relations to ensure modicum of mutual respect and tolerance.
These unnecessary tensions, which go beyond the bounds of acceptable
political and ideological differences, have often found expression in
the most inappropriate forums, such as in the National Assembly
sittings.  The fist-banging of tables by the DA MPs during one of the
sittings, based on what was later found to be a misinterpretation of the
rules, will surely go down as the year 2012’s most disgraceful day in
Parliament.   

The worst part of the whole shameful conduct is that it was led and
encouraged, in full view of the public, by both the party DA Chief Whip
and Parliamentary Leader. The fact that the nation is yet to receive  an
apology from these leaders following this shameful act speaks volumes
about the type of leaders the DA currently have in Parliament. As the
majority party, we have consistently disagreed politically with the
chief whips of the DA in the past. However, one quality we could never
take away from them is their polished grasp and interpretation of the
rules of Parliament. It is unfortunate that the same cannot be said
about the current DA chief whip and his deputy. It has never happened
before that a chief whip, whose responsibility is to maintain order and
discipline in the House amongst party MPs, brazenly leads his entire
Caucus into a disorder and anarchy. It is even worse when such an act is
later found to have been sparked by a misunderstanding of rules. It
would seem that what the DA Chief Whip lacks in basic leadership, he
makes up for with rowdiness and howling. The public is owed an
unreserved apology for this blatant contempt of Parliament.

We will strive for improved inter-party relations in 2013 in the
interest of the dignity, functionality and efficiency of Parliament.
Indeed as parties in this institution, we must spare neither strength
nor effort in ensuring that difficult challenges are resolved within the
structures of Parliament without the involvement of the judiciary.
Expecting the judiciary to adjudicate on matters that are
Parliament’scompetence not only undermines the doctrine of separation
of powers, but also sends out an incapable of managing its own affairs.
The court cases by Mosioua Lekota
against the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the other by the
DA aimed at forcing Parliament to debate a no confidence motion with
urgency are both vexatious and unnecessary. It is not the responsibility
of the courts to babysit Parliament.

As 2012 draws to a close, we wish to thank all our MPs for their hard
work and dedication during this year. We also wish them well during the
course of their constituency work and good rest in their holidays.We
would also like to thank our staff for their unwavering support and
commitment in helping to advance the work of the ANC in Parliament.

The ANC in Parliament will hold its Caucus Lekgotla in February 2012 to
design a programme of action, informed by the resolutions of the 2012
National Conference and the January 8th Statement of the National
Executive Committee.
 

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