‘More meaningful dialogue between Parliament and executive is needed’

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Associate Professor Richard Calland has told the State Capture Commission that there needs to be more meaningful dialogue between Parliament and the executive for proper oversight to occur.

Calland who wrote a report on the workings of Parliament in 2020 is testifying about how the National Assembly’s role can be enhanced.

He says in the last decade, there has been an absence of proper engagement between parliament and its committees with Cabinet and departmental heads.

“If all a parliamentary committee does is just sit in Parliament and let the executive come to it and if it doesn’t have independent research resources serving the committee, chances are the committee will not be in a position to second guess what the executive says to it.”

“So the executive can say that is a bad idea, we know better than you. For these reasons, unless the committee has the wherewithal and the knowledge and the political will to stand up to that. Then the executive will generally roll over the legislature and that oversight function will be crushed,” adds Calland.

Below is the live stream for Tuesday:

On Monday, former Chairperson of the Correctional Services Portfolio Committee Vincent Smith told the commission that the committee was unable to stop the  Department of Correctional Services’ recurring extension of contracts to Bosasa.

A probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in 2008 found that there was evidence that department officials were involved in bribery and corruption in the awarding of catering contracts to Bosasa and its affiliated companies Sondolo and Phezulu.

Yet the contracts continued to be extended up until 2019. Smith was chairperson of the portfolio committee between 2009 and 2014.

“Ours as Parliament, as I understand it, is the power to persuade. We didn’t have the power to micro-manage or the powers to dictate and I want to say I am not offering that as an excuse but that was the power relationship and I believe it is still the relationship,” explains Smith.

Smith is facing corruption charges after former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi alleged Smith had received gifts and money for co-operating with Bosasa.-Additional reporting by Amina Accram

The Commission hears Parliamentary Oversight-related evidence: