I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, calling for Parliament to reconvene… writes DA Leader John 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 destructive lockdown.
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.
Parliament needs to reconvene immediately so that we can tackle these problems with the urgency they require. 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.
The Constitution tasks Parliament, as an independent democratic institution, to protect and promote the national interest by holding the executive to account and by debating and finding solutions to the main problems we face as a nation.
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.
It has now been ten days since I wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula requesting that she urgently establish an ad-hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala robbery scandal which 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.
Then Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng delivered Parliament a firm rebuke for its dereliction of duty in failing to hold former President 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 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.
The DA cares deeply about South Africa and the plight that millions of vulnerable South Africans are in. We will not shy from our constitutional duty to hold the government to account. We have offered solutions to all the problems besetting our nation, and where we govern we are doing what we can with limited mandate and budget to step in where national government is failing.
By John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance