Today the DA presents our 2016 Parliamentary Review to provide accountability for what we have done in Parliament, as the Official Opposition. This review shows that the Democratic Alliance (DA) is the only party which is truly taking forward the Constitutional mandate to hold the Executive to account through Parliament.
It must be noted upfront that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has consistently shown that she represents Luthuli House and has failed on numerous occasions to uphold her constitutional responsibilities as the Speaker by showing extreme bias when presiding on the House. She defends and protects President Zuma at every opportunity; she takes ANC points of order while ignoring those from the opposition; and she has made some atrocious rulings in the House recently. The DA maintains that her position as Chairperson of the National Executive Committee of the ANC makes her unfit for the position of Speaker.
This year was a short Parliamentary year, largely due to the fact that the House rose for the 2016 Local Government Election that took place on 3 August. Despite this, the figures show that we have performed exceptionally well in holding the Executive to account.
For instance, the DA asked 81% of all written and oral questions in 2016, this compared to a pitiful 0.5% by the ANC, 7,5% by the EFF and 11% by all other opposition parties combined.
The DA has also made the most of every opportunity to deliver Member Statements and Motions in the House to take forward the issues that concern our voters, most notably the economy and jobs; service delivery; corruption; crime and education.
The statistics of this review also show that the Executive are simply not taking their constitutional duty to account seriously. For instance, the Department of Higher Education, despite being in the grips of a massive student funding crisis, failed to answer 57%* of the written questions posed to them this year.
South Africa was beset with numerous crises in 2016. Ranging from the student funding crisis to the drought to chilling reports of state capture, the ANC-led government failed the people of South Africa time and again by failing to deal decisively with any of these.
While the ANC dragged their feet, the DA took up the fight and forced the government to confront and deal with these crises, using the country’s apex institution: Parliament. Where we have put pressure on government, there have been results. This is what we mean when we say that we are standing up for South Africa and its people.
For example, the DA’s request for the Public Protector to investigate state capture has meant that South Africans finally know some of the depths of the mafia-like control that President Zuma and his Gupta cronies have over our country. On the student finding crisis the DA has put forward budget proposals and made written submissions to the Fees Commission, which if the ANC had agreed to would have gone a long way to mitigating the continued strife at our universities. The DA has repeatedly called for the drought to be declared a national disaster, after seeing first hand through oversight trips to drought-stricken communities across South Africa. Finally, the DA has done everything in our capacity to fight against the capture of the NPA and the SABC – and will continue to do so when the SABC Enquiry continues in Parliament this week.
The Democratic Alliance continues to hold the ANC to account at Parliament. We do this in the face of continued hampering of our efforts by the Speaker and the complete disregard for the Legislature shown by many members of the Executive. We take the discharge of our constitutional duties very seriously and the record of our 2016 activities bear testimony to that. Moving into 2017 we will use the Rules Committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament to hold the Speaker to account. We will also use every mechanism at our disposal to continue the fight four South Africa in Parliament.
* As at 26 November 2016
John Steenhuisen MP
Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance