A day before President Jacob Zuma is due in Parliament, opposition parties decried what they call the legislature’s failure to hold the president and his executive to account.
A groan was audible from the ANC benches when Agang MP Andries Tlouamma stepped up to the National Assembly’s podium to deliver his speech in the debate on parliament’s budget.
“This Parliament is held hostage by the president and the Guptas,” he said.
“Honourable speaker, you must try to escape from the shadow of the president,” he said to Speaker Baleka Mbete, who listened to him with a slight smile.
Freedom Front Plus MP Dr Corné Mulder said it was in dealing with the Nkandla matter where “Parliament went completely wrong”.
“The integrity of Parliament has been completely destroyed,” he said.
“By you!” an ANC MP interjected.
Mulder said the level of debate in the fifth Parliament is the lowest it has ever been since 1994.
He also quoted the Constitutional Court’s ruling on Nkandla in 2016 that Parliament flouted its oversight duties.
Congress of the People MP Deidre Carter said the democratic principle of the separation of powers was introduced to prevent tyranny.
“As the extent of the treasonous actions of a gang of thieves, a mafia, with Mr Zuma and the Guptas at its apex … it confirms that under the majoritarian tyranny of the ANC Parliament, it has failed in its cardinal duty of ensuring that power is not abused by not exercising oversight and holding the executive accountable,” she said.
“Treason has been committed. The traitor in chief must fall, and the ANC must fall.”
Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said, “President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet are captured parasitic vampires sucking the very lifeblood out of the state”.
Steenhuisen said the Nkandla ruling should have been a wake-up call for Parliament to exercise its oversight role, but this has not been the case.
“The shielding of the executive has continued unabated,” he said.
Two of the ANC MPs who spoke in the debate, Mnyamezeli Booi and Vincent Smith, served on the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), which in recent months took a firm stance on corruption and poor governance.
“Corruption is the enemy of good governance,” said Booi.
Smith said Parliament must not be a “lame duck institution”.
“As MPs, we’ll always be stronger when we act together,” said Smith, who chaired the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board. This committee was characterised by a unity among MPs from different parties, thus far unseen in the fifth Parliament.
“Parliament must at all times respond to our people’s aspirations.”
The loudest applause of the day, from all the parties, was heard when house chairperson Thoko Didiza in her speech mentioned that MPs did not receive salary raises in 2016.
“I hope this time I will be the best shop steward and ensure you get something,” said Didiza, to rapturous applause.
On Wednesday, Zuma will address the National Assembly to deliver the presidency’s budget. Six hours are scheduled for this debate.[source: News24]