An unaccountable Presidency bans parliamentary oversight to the Union Buildings

Issued by Madeleine Hicklin MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
30 Jun 2023 in News
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has effectively banned Parliament from conducting oversight on the Union Buildings complex, which is a violation of the Constitution.
  • This decision was revealed when a Member of Parliament requested permission to conduct an oversight visit and was told by a senior official in the Presidency that Parliament was not allowed to oversee the Union Buildings.
  • This lack of accountability is consistent with Ramaphosa’s administration, as he has created a powerful Presidency that avoids scrutiny and disregards parliamentary oversight.

Please find attached a soundbite by Madeleine Hicklin MP.

In an unprecedented step that borders on the violation of the Constitution, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has effectively banned Parliament from exercising its oversight responsibility on the Union Buildings complex.

Following reports that there was material degradation of the structure and fittings inside the Union Buildings, I submitted a request (in my capacity as a Member of Parliament) to the Presidency and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) requesting that I, together with Cllr Leanne de Jager, be granted permission to conduct an oversight visit on 30 July 2023.

In a response to my request, the DDG in the Presidency responsible for Corporate Services, Ms Matsietsi Mekoa, made the stunning remarks that Parliament was not allowed to conduct oversight on the Union Buildings Complex. In her own words, Ms Mekoa made the shocking claim that ‘…the Union Buildings is not accessible for oversight visits by Portfolio Committees or members of such Committees.’ Her argument was that the Presidency was ‘unlike other departments’, implying that the Presidency was off limits and accountable to no one.

The DA finds this disdain for parliamentary accountability by Ramaphosa’s office appalling and a direct assault on the Constitution which he swore to uphold. As head of the Executive, section 92 of the Constitution clearly states that the President, and members of his Cabinet, are directly accountable to Parliament in the exercise of their duties.

Then again, this latest assault on parliamentary oversight is hardly surprising when one considers that it has become the hallmark of Ramaphosa’s administration. After going to extreme lengths to create a super Presidency, Ramaphosa has done everything in his power to ensure that his ever expanding office is shielded from accountability.

Public servants working in Ramaphosa’s office now have the confidence to show Parliament the middle finger because their political principal has himself shown an aversion to Parliamentary accountability. The Presidency has become a law unto itself, in violation of the Constitution and the parliamentary prerogative to exercise oversight over the Executive.

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