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Steenhuisen wants Parliament to reconvene to deal with load-shedding, fuel price, Phala Phala saga


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Steenhuisen wants Parliament to reconvene to deal with load-shedding, fuel price, Phala Phala saga

DA leader John Steenhuisen
DA leader John Steenhuisen

6th July 2022

By: News24Wire


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The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants Parliament to reconvene urgently to deal with load-shedding, the increases in fuel prices and the Phala Phala scandal.

On Wednesday, DA leader John Steenhuisen said he had written to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, asking that Parliament be reconvened.


The National Assembly rose on 17 June and the National Council of Provinces a week later. The recess is until 15 August, although some committees are still meeting, notably the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Section 194 Committee handling Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's impeachment.

This is not enough for Steenhuisen.


"It is inconceivable that Parliament is shut during this time of national crisis. It should be meeting around the clock to find solutions to the multiple crises hitting our nation simultaneously at a time when households and businesses are already battling to recover from two years of [a] destructive lockdown," Steenhuisen said in a statement.

"Stage 6 load-shedding, the fuel price crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, the Phala Phala scandal, unemployment, and the state's seeming inability or unwillingness to tackle growing lawlessness are causing immense unnecessary economic damage and human suffering, risking full-blown anarchy."

According to Steenhuisen, Parliament should reconvene immediately to tackle these problems with the requisite urgency.

"This is even more critical since President Ramaphosa seems to be missing in action, or simply unwilling to speak to the nation about the state it is in and reassure people that action is being taken.

"It is sanity-straining that two cabinets – the official bloated one of 68 ministers and deputy ministers and also President Ramaphosa's parallel cabinet comprising scores of task teams, advisors and commissions, both of which are funded entirely by the people of South Africa – appear to be wholly unable to implement the wide array of very obvious solutions that would bring immense relief to the nation and the economy."

He noted that the Constitution had tasked Parliament – an independent democratic institution – with promoting the national interest by holding the executive to account and debating and finding solutions to the main problems in the country.

"The more the executive fails, the more crucial it is that Parliament steps up to the plate with solutions and oversight. This is especially so when the president himself appears to have forsaken the nation."

According to Steenhuisen, it has been 10 days since he wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula requesting the appointment of an ad hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala farm robbery scandal. Steenhuisen said the scandal "implicates President Ramaphosa in an array of serious crimes, from money laundering to bribery to the abuse of public funds for private gain. Yet still no action has been taken".

Steenhuisen recalled how former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng rebuked Parliament for dereliction of duty after failing to hold former president Jacob Zuma to account in the Nkandla scandal.

"It is critical that the speaker demonstrates Parliament's commitment to its constitutional duty and the oath of office that each of its members swore, by establishing an ad hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala scandal.

"Mapisa-Nqakula's clear reluctance to hold President Ramaphosa to account suggests Parliament is falling into the exact trap Chief Justice [Raymond] Zondo warned about in his state capture report, protecting the executive from the people of South Africa, rather than the other way around as is its constitutional duty," Steenhuisen said.

While there hasn't been an official response form Mapisa-Nqakula on the request for an ad hoc committee, she has dismissed the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and African Transformation Movement's (ATM's) requests for a parliamentary investigation into the matter. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa suggested that Ramaphosa take a sabbatical while the investigation was under way.

ATM requested a Section 89 committee – or so-called impeachment committee. Such a committee can only be formed after the House adopts a resolution to that effect.

According to a statement from Parliament, Mapisa-Nqakula declined both requests because neither request was accompanied by a substantive motion, as required by the rules.

ATM subsequently resubmitted their request, with a substantive motion.

Like other senior African National Congress MPs, Mapisa-Nqakula has also been advancing the notion that law enforcement agencies' investigations into Phala Phala should first be completed before Parliament deals with it.

During the debate on Parliament's budget last month, DA deputy chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said Parliament should urgently demand answers from Ramaphosa.

"No sitting president should simply go on about his business and Parliament sits idly," she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula didn't share Gwarube's sense of urgency.

She said Ramaphosa had indicated that he would cooperate with law enforcement agencies, and there "mustn't be parallel processes".

Mapisa-Nqakula said to Gwarube: "You are so much in a hurry. Where we are able to act, we are acting."

She said there was "no way [Parliament] can rush into anything" before a final report was submitted.

In its final report, the Zondo Commission, which, among other things, dealt with how Parliament aided and abetted state capture, dismissed the notion that Parliament couldn't investigate a president while police investigations were ongoing.

In the commission's view, Parliament's duty to oversee the executive included "a duty to investigate or enquire (or to take other reasonable and appropriate measures) where there is reasonable cause to suspect unconstitutional, unlawful or improper conduct on the part of a senior representative of the executive".

Ramaphosa has since refused to provide details about the allegations against him to Parliament but indicated that he would submit himself to the ANC's integrity commission.


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