Study tours should be more than shopping sprees

Radley Keys, MPP

Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature

Chairperson, I will concentrate on the study tour leg to Mauritius as I was unable to attend the Swiss portion of it.  Our experience was most enlightening and I sincerely hope that we inculcate what we learnt there to make our legislature more democratic and responsive to the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

The DA’s concern is that we go on these study tours and are enriched by the experience – and there it dies. Seldom do we implement systems that may benefit us as a province and over and over there are lost opportunities. It is as if we approach these trips with a “know it all” attitude and nobody can add value. So in the end many study tours end up as shopping trips at the taxpayers’ expense.

Rodrigues is akin to a province of Mauritius and has its own government, much like KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It is a government borne out of years of struggle to have their own government to deal with matters that are unique to Rodrigues, as opposed to Mauritius. Like KZN it has its own unique population very different to the rest of Mauritius with its own challenges. The assembly in Rodrigues has a healthy balance of power where no party is certain of electoral victory. If the government does not deliver, they are voted out. South African voters need to exercise their power to remove non-performing governments be it local, provincial or national.

Rodrigues is led by a true democrat who pushes for self reliance of all Mauritians. He has the vision needed to make his province a success. His opposition promises that government will employ more people – the direct opposite of a successful state founded on individual entrepreneurs.

In Mauritius we were exposed to the most healthy parliamentary practice experienced to date. The Speaker is elected by the House and on his election must resign from his political party to preside impartially over the House. This is something we in KwaZulu-Natal would benefit from and the stature of the Speaker would rise. We trust that the Whips will investigate amending our rules to bring about this change where the Speaker will in fact be the guardian of the rights of all the members of this house, and not have a leaning to the governing party’s members. The integrity of their House is prized above any petty personal or party agendas.

Like Rodrigues, the power balance in Mauritius is no foregone conclusion for any party and there have been changes in government because the people are mature and able to remove governments that do not deliver. There is no question in Mauritius of using taxpayers’ money to canvass for votes, unlike here where millions of taxpayers’ money is used by MECs and the legislature to promote the governing party. There is a strict code of ethics that we could well benefit from if we were to adopt them, but my hope is tempered by the approach adopted by the ANC in this legislature that clearly puts the party before the people of this province. Maybe the voters will come to see that when we next meet at the ballot box.

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