We will fight attempts to render Parliament useless at every turn

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
13 Sep 2022 in News

Below is a declaration on the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament that was delivered in Parliament today by the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition, Siviwe Gwarube MP.


Parliament has four key functions:

  • To elect a President;
  • Hold the executive to account on behalf of the people of South Africa;
  • Pass legislation;
  • Be the center of public debate on the most pressing issues facing South Africans

In fact, further more to that, this Parliament has resolved that its mission is to be an activist and responsive people’s Parliament.

Judging by the function and the vision of the institution alone, we should have a national legislature that has its finger on the pulse and ready with solutions to the crisis of the day.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case when one looks at Parliament’s mid-year review.

It is easy to produce a shopping list of targets met and milestones reached; but are we actually measuring the impact that Parliament has on ordinary people who look to us for solutions to their problems?

I think not.

There’s often a misconception that Parliament belongs to the politicians who occupy these benches when in fact, the national legislature belongs to the people we are meant to serve.

This is why there are three key issues that are preventing Parliament from fulfilling its constitutional obligation.

Detachment of the business of the House from the Business of the People

It is absolutely crucial that the work that we do here, is directly linked to the issues that are occupying the minds of South Africans.

We should be judging the efficacy of this House by how many times a budget has been sent back to the Executive to provide a safety net for those who are crippled by poverty;

We should be assessing our work based on the pieces of legislation passed that seek to tackle crime and outlaw harmful practices like cadre deployment;

Bekufanele ukuba sihlala sishukuxa indaba yentswela-ngqesho yabantu abatasha beli.

Instead, we howl and scream at each about things that have little value to the ordinary person.

Limited functionality of Parliament for MPs and for the Public:

Ukutsha kwePalamente ekuqaleni konyaka kuthethe ukuba sizibone siswela indawo yokudibanela sinze umsebenzi esiwuthunyiweyo ngabantu baseMzantsi Afrika.

Concerningly, it has taken us 8 months to get a report on the status of the damage to the Houses of Parliament, one only shudders to consider how long it will take to get the institution rebuilt.

Many will argue that the work of Parliament can be done virtually. They do so ignoring the fact that what we do here spans far beyond sitting on these benches and making speeches from time to time. Holding government to account fully and reaching across the aisle to find solutions to complex problems is part of the job.

It is therefore important that every cent is geared towards the rebuilding of Parliament. That is why, we need answers from the new Secretary to Parliament on why the institution splurged on new vehicles for the presiding officers when the current cars are under two years old.

Or why a contract is allegedly awarded to the disgraced former Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, at great public cost.

Abuse of by the majority to render Parliament useless:

The country watched with horror as details of Parliament’s inaction during State Capture were revealed during the Zondo Commission. Former presiding officers offered public apologies for Parliament’s role in aiding and abetting the looting of public money by sitting idly or actively blocking accountability.

Now we have an opportunity to rectified what we neglected to do – holding the executive to account. At every turn, efforts to demand answers are blocked by the ANC that enjoys the majority in the House. We hope that will not be for long.

Questions on the alleged abuse of public institutions on the President’s farm are blocked; rules misused to prevent MPs who wish to serve, from doing their jobs.

The Zondo Commission reports have given us a diagnosis of where there are gaps in our own processes and rules.

We would be ignoring these at our own peril.

Hollowing out Parliament for short political gain and factional interests may work now, but it will cost the country dearly for generations to come.

The caucus I lead will ensure that we do what we are sent here to do.

And we will fight attempts to render Parliament useless at every turn.

Let us hope that we will have a better story to tell for Parliament in the coming months.