It was confirmed in the National Assembly Programming Committee this morning that oral questions to the Executive will not be scheduled this term.
These questions were supposed to be scheduled for 30 July 2014 – but it was cancelled because all Presiding Officers are now attending a “Speaker’s Forum” thereby preventing the House from sitting.
This is an absolute disgrace. Parliament has a responsibility to discharge its constitutionally mandated oversight functions. This cannot be prevented because of a forum meeting.
It is also contrary to the Rules of Parliament. NA Rule 18 categorically states that “whenever the House has been informed that all the elected presiding officers are unavoidably absent, this House shall forthwith elect one of its members to act as Speaker for that day only”.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, as the House representative, and the Presiding Officer charged with ensuring Parliament fulfils its constitutional obligations, must intervene and ensure that this happens.
In this respect, the DA will request an urgent meeting with the Speaker to discuss the application of this rule, to enable oral questions to take place.
If these questions do not go ahead, it would mean that Parliament would not have exercised this function for a significant period of time:
Only the Deputy President and Ministers from the Economics cluster have answered questions in 2014
Ministers in the Peace and Security Cluster have not answered questions since 21 August 2013 – almost an entire year
The President will not answer questions until August – 9 months since he last answered questions in the National Assembly
Ministers in the Social Services and Governance cluster have not answered questions in the House since September and October 2013, respectively.
We will not stop fighting to ensure that parliament fulfils its constitutional obligations with meaning and integrity, and fight against attempts to limit oversight over the executive.
John Steenhuisen, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance
Source : Democratic Alliance