Yesterday, 7 March 2018, Deputy President David Mabuza, in his new capacity as the Leader of Government Business, failed his first test: ensuring that Ministers in the Peace and Security cluster appear before Parliament to account. The DA will accordingly write to Deputy President Mabuza as the Leader of Government Business to request that he ensures that Ministers appropriately account to Parliament in accordance with constitutional requirements.
In the very first plenary session for oral questions for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Ministers in the Peace and Security cluster, it was more apparent than ever that little has changed in the “renewed” ANC. President Ramaphosa and Deputy President Mabuza secured an appalling attendance rate for Cabinet Ministers. In fact, attendance in yesterday’s question session was seemingly on par than what was typical under the Zuma administration.
Ramaphosa’s Cabinet Ministers, like constitutional delinquent and current Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, displayed staggering skill in dodging accountability and flip-flopping. Initially, Minister Gigaba indicated that he would be attending the oral questions session. Then, according to a memo sent out by Parliament on 6 March, the Minister backed out indicating that his Deputy would be in attendance in his stead. However, on 7 March, a revised memo from Parliament indicated that the Minister would again avail himself to attend the session. However, despite the undertaking in the revised memo, Minister Gigaba was ultimately a no-show in the House.
Minister Gigaba was very likely dodging Parliament to avoid pressing questions around the Gupta family’s citizenship and the judgment of a full bench of the High Court in the mater of Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Home Affairs which found him to have violated the Constitution and lied under oath.
Evidently, Deputy President Mabuza is either unwilling or unable to make sure that Ministers like Gigaba toe the line and fulfil their constitutional responsibility to Parliament. Ministers are running scared and dodging their constitutional responsibility to account to the people of South Africa through Parliament.
The paltry performance by Cabinet Ministers yesterday is proof that the promises that President Ramaphosa made during the State of the Nation Address have amounted to nothing – accountability has not been prioritized and his administration is already showing signs of treating Parliament with contempt.