KwaZulu-Natal a “ja baas” legislature

Radley Keys, MPP

Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature

The Legislature holds the pivotal position of keeping the executive accountable to the people of this province, enacting legislation and involving the people of our province in these processes.

These are its core functions and this debate is a perfect opportunity to soberly assess its performance.

The budget for the legislature has mushroomed since the ANC took power in KZN. In 2004 the allocation was R95 million, in 2009 it jumped to R287 million, and this year it is R417 million. The more we allocate to this legislature, the less we have available to deliver services to the people on the ground.

On the core functions:

Holding executive to account:

Out of a score of 10 we give the ANC and MF members 2 and real opposition members 9.

Too often the executive is the tail that wags the legislature dog. In most portfolio committees the ANC members use these committees to laud their MECs and the departments. It is a foreign concept to hold them to account and scrutinise their delivery records. This is left to opposition members without fail. The DA also notes the attendance of MEC’s in this House, which is abysmal – a clear indication of the disdain they hold the House in.

Enacting Legislation:

Here the House fares reasonably well as we pass the budget, the adjustments estimates and a few other bills into law. Out of 10 the DA gives the legislature a score of 4.

Our concern is that legislation slavishly follows what the ANC masters dictate. No longer is this legislature a legislature of the people of KZN, for the people of KZN by the people of KZN. Instead it is a legislature that is a “ja baas” to the ANC national executive. Lost is the Constitutional guarantee that the people will govern – today cadre deployment and national dictates take precedence over quality delivery and the overseeing of the government.

Community involvement:

The DA supports portfolio committees and multi-party committee interaction with communities across the province. These are excellent opportunities for people to raise their concerns and highlight problems experienced and have the MPPs take these matters to their committees and departments to address them. On this the score is 8 out of 10.

We cannot say the same for the charade of taking parliament to the people. These expensive roving tents do not reflect the multi-party nature of the legislature. Only ANC members are exposed to the public, and instead of it being an opportunity for the legislature to interact with the public, the executive take over and canvass for the ANC at the taxpayers’ expense and push the legislature into the background.  Here we score the legislature 1 out of 10.

But where are time and resources being spent?

Members’ interests;

This house has spent many hours, days, weeks and months extending the benefits for members. We as members can;

  • further our studies at taxpayers’ expense at a university of our choice,
  • until recently we could have a driver paid by the taxpayer, fortunately reason has prevailed and new rules have made it impossible to milk the system
  • there was a proposal to establish a gymnasium and hire medical practitioners to attend to members health issues, despite the fact that we on one of the best medical aid schemes in the country.

LEXCO

This new executive structure is exclusively ANC and no longer accountable to SCOPA or the Finance committee. Instead the ANC introduced and rammed through its proposal that the legislature will be accountable to the newly established standing committee of oversight of the legislature. The significant change is that there is no oversight of what is planned, but only of what has happened – in retrospect. The DA opposed this in the spirit of making the legislature accountable as all other departments are, but to no avail.

A new legislature building;

This rejected plan is being resuscitated and is rumoured to cost the taxpayer in excess of a billion rand. Why don’t we refurbish this chamber – the chamber in Mauritius is half the size of this chamber but due to intelligent design is capable of seating 88 members plus media and has a public gallery. Let us save the money to serve the people rather than our egos.

Study tours

Study tours cost the taxpayer in excess of 2 million rand per study tour. The sadness is that what is learnt on these study tours is seldom if ever reported back and debated in this house and has even less chance of being adopted to achieve best practices. The DA proposed two study tours per member but he ANC insisted that four study trips be available to each member.

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