The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is satisfied with the oversight performance by its Members of Parliament over the past year. The party says the work of its MPs have ensured, among others, that Parliament continued to sit during the COVID-19 lockdown.
It says its members were responsible for two-thirds of questions to the executive. The party held a media briefing to review its performance.
Every year the DA assesses the work of its MPs and their impact on the executive and legislation. The party says it is particularly pleased that its efforts helped avert a total closure of Parliament during the lockdown and that committee meetings continued, albeit virtually.
“Government accepted the DA’s proposal on the UIF reprieve. The proposal also allowed for businesses to skip the UIF payment and expand UIF coverage to better protect affected workers. We thank our shadow ministers of labour who helped tremendously in this massive fight. We continued our opposition to the Section 25 amendment of the constitution. We have a full committee that is working on that continuously and the fight continues from the DA,” says Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone.
📊| We are fighting for you!
The DA asked 1 893 (66 %) of the total 2 860 written questions in the National Assembly at an average of 59 questions per opportunity.
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) December 10, 2020
The party says it would like to see Parliament resume normal sittings from next year as it believes that there are adequate measures to ensure everyone is safe.
Mazzone says members are falling into a comfort zone by being away from Parliament. She says if the rest of the country is expected to be back at work, Parliamentarians should lead by example.
“We have nothing to be afraid of in Parliament and we lead from the front and as MPs people look up to us for guidance and if everyone is going back to work, scholars and learners and teachers are going back to school we need to be going back to Parliament in full force. And I look forward to Parliament opening fully operational next year and I’m certainly going to be pushing on instruction from our Parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen.”
Oversight Committee for the Presidency
The party adds that it will intensify its call for the establishment of an oversight committee for the Presidency. It says it is not acceptable that Parliament has no mechanism to hold the Presidency accountable for the funds allocated to it.
The party also says this is necessary since the Presidency’s budget allocation is larger than that of some departments. Party leader John Steenhuisen says Parliament cannot wait until the President appears before it to answer questions, which happens only four times a year.
“What we will be doing in the New Year is driving a new program that looks into how we can enhance oversight and accountability of Parliament and to take Parliament from being a lapdog back into being a watchdog. Far too many instances that we’ve seen in the course of the last year, committees have just let things slide when they are politically inconvenient and uncomfortable to deal with them. What we need to do is to reassert Parliament’s role in terms of holding the executive accountable and that includes the President.”