Debate by: M. Joshua Mazibuko; IFP MPL
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
KwaZulu-Natal Legislature; Pietermaritzburg
Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members.
The IFP enters this debate with a clear understanding that our country’s Constitution, orders that there shall be a separation of powers. Allow us therefore to applaud the Hon. Speaker and her colleagues in the National Speakers’ Forum for insistently pursuing the matter of the autonomy of the Legislative arm of the state. We add our voice that this indeed be observed if this House is to effectively conduct its work. And the Budget processes must also be seen to be observant to that injunction. We would also wish to hear more on where they are right now towards the accomplishment of that mission.
CAPACITATION OF MEMBERS
The document “General Responsibilities of Committee Members” states that “the work of Committees requires extensive preparations and reading prior to meetings” (Oversight – KZN Legislature; kznlegislature.gov.za/)
This presupposes that Committees are sufficiently-staffed and capacitated. We applaud the work already done towards capacitating the Committees. However, we wish to place on record that, regardless of budgetary constraints, Committees must have sufficient human and non-human support, including all relevant tools of the trade.
This also talks to the fact that all Departments must take Committees seriously. Yes, there are Departments which do their best to cooperate with Portfolio Committees. However, there is still room for improvement.
OVERSIGHT TAKES PRECEDENCE
The same document urges Hon. Members to “develop a sense of institutional identity as the oversight and scrutiny functions of the Legislature take precedence over all other considerations.”
Hon. Speaker, it says “oversight and scrutiny functions of the Legislature take precedence over all other considerations.” This tells in no uncertain terms that our paramount responsibility as Members is to ensure that the provincial government and its entities is staying true to the promises made to the voters. Therefore, no hindrance allowed to impede Hon. Members from executing this mandate.
The Budget must also talk to this injunction. It is unfortunate that the current budget places Hon. Members in a situation tantamount to a police officer who is using a Toyota Corolla to follow a 4-Litre Jeep vehicle. If we are to be effective in our mandate to oversee the government and its entities, then the budget must be commensurate with that mountainous responsibility.
The document also orders us as Hon. Members to set partisanship aside “where oversight-related matters are concerned. In such instances, Members will need to see themselves as a part of the Legislature and work co-operatively with other parties.”
I hope this finds space in the hearts of those Hon. Members in the ruling party who totally fail to divorce their roles as party praise-singers from their responsibilities as overseers over the Executive.
Hon. Speaker the eminence of oversight and our non-partisanship must also be seen when this Legislature goes out to the communities through the Taking-Legislature-to-the-People and similar programs. First, the conduct of such gatherings must reflect the multi-party character of this Legislature. While on this point, I am reminded of the Hon. Premier’s concern expressed in this House that some Hon. Members do not attend government functions or just show their faces and disappear. Part of the problem lies in finding ourselves attending ANC gatherings masqueraded as government functions. And as long as this is not attended to, we shall continue to have this problem.
Hon. Speaker; this must also be reflected in the debating time allocated to Hon. Members in this House. As Hon. Gwala has said before, it is ironic that some Members of this House are placed in a situation where they drive more than 200km to eat for 1 hour and speak for 1 or 2 minutes. On the other hand, some Hon. Members have so much time that they literally run short of the matter and end up engaging in sectarian political rhetoric.
This injunction talks also to those who occupy the Chair of this House from time-to-time that they must always act impartially
ENCOURAGE Public Participation
Hon. Speaker; one of our responsibilities, is to ensure that the residents of KwaZulu-Natal develop and interest and participate in the “legislative processes, oversight, issues of governance affecting their lives…and activities by the committees of a legislature.
One of the ways to encourage such awareness, is through publicizing every Sitting of the Legislature well beforehand. We must not have guests and visitors only when they are invited by Departments.
While on this point, it is worth pointing out also that we applaud the tradition of holding both the Hon. Premier’s State of Province Address in a bigger space which allows many people to attend. However, for the people to listen to the SOPA is but one side of the story of this House. The other part is for the same public to listen to the views of the Members of this House as they debate the Hon. Premier’s SOPA. That completes the story.
I thank you