Getting answers is no easy feat

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance will write to the Speaker of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature requesting an intervention in terms of improving cooperation between the legislature and the Premier and her cabinet. This, as attempts by the opposition to get answers from the Premier and her cabinet are proving to be no easy feat.

Numerous issues directly affecting the people of the province are brought to the attention of Members of the Provincial Legislature on an almost daily basis. However, when we try and drive these issues, our attempts to gather more information and seek clarity on the issues at hand often come to a dead halt. This, we believe, is due to either the inefficiency or unwillingness on the part of the Premier and MEC’s to provide the legislature, the prime oversight body in the province, with the facts.

A case in point is the “question time” sessions with the Premier. Whilst the commencement of these sessions was initially much anticipated, they have done little to provide us with a transparent platform to unpack issues to hold the premier and her cabinet to account. Question time sessions are few and far between, and are regularly postponed. Furthermore, the 15 minute time slot allocated to question time is highly insufficient and affords barely anyone, except perhaps the ruling party itself, an opportunity to pose questions to the Premier.

Another matter of concern is that of parliamentary questions. Due to a poor track record of receiving responses from the Premier and MEC’s in the past, we have grown despondent in terms of submitting questions. Enforcing accountability in this regard, however, is something that can be easily corrected by implementing rulings that would mandate the Premier and MEC’s who have missed the 10-day time period allocated for replying to questions, to stand up during House Sittings or even cabinet meetings and provide reasons why they have failed to reply to parliamentary questions.

The DA is of the firm view that the speed with which questions are replied to, and the quality of the replies, is an important litmus test of the respect that the Premier and MEC’s have for the legislature’s oversight role. In the past couple of weeks, the DA has submitted a number of new parliamentary questions. We will closely monitor the performance of MEC’s with respect to parliamentary replies, and the Premier’s commitment to ensuring that the institution of the legislature is respected by government.

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