Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Caucus Leader
How many jobs do you know that pay regardless of performance?
Not many, I guess. But politicians get elected for five years, and are paid every month even if they do very little.
Unlike an employee in a private company, they have job security even in the deepest economic recession.
Parliament has rules for committee attendance, but these are poorly enforced.
Only one person in the Gauteng Legislature was ever fined for non-attendance.
This was Mathole Motshekga, who shortly thereafter was elected for a brief term as Gauteng premier.
Later, he became ANC Chief Whip in the national parliament, and had little success curbing truant MPs
A number of bills have failed in parliament because the ANC didn’t have enough members to ensure a quorum.
Winnie Mandela is rarely seen in parliament, but earns an MP’s salary of R870 000 per annum.
It’s up to political parties to ensure that public representatives do a decent day’s work.
If they don’t perform, they can be expelled from the party and thereby lose their seat.
But disciplinary action is slow, so a poor performer can easily survive a five-year term.
It’s not difficult to attend meetings and snooze through them, as some MPs do.
Many MPs work extremely hard, but they are all on the same salary scale.
A good MP performs well not only in parliament, but in serving a constituency which the party allocates.
Voter queries should be answered promptly, and attention given to community issues.
The best public representatives go out of their way to improve people’s lives.
A recent fire in my east Johannesburg constituency burnt down 180 shacks.
Local ward councillor Alison van der Molen got an amazing amount of donations, including food, clothes and Zozo huts.
There are lots of other examples of good works by public representatives of all parties.
But sadly, there are those who are callously neglectful.
When I visited the Leratong informal settlement in west Johannesburg I found only 15 working taps for 8000 people.
I bought 10 taps from a nearby store, and a local unemployed plumber installed them in about an hour.
The ANC ward councillor could have easily got the council to fix the taps, but couldn’t be bothered.
The problem for voters is that it is only at local level that there is a ward representative they can hold directly accountable.
For parliament and the provincial legislatures voters have to trust in party lists.
They won’t be able to boot off known scoundrels who get high on the lists because of internal political support.
For instance, Humphrey Mmemezi resigned as Local Government MEC after abusing his credit card, but still remains an MPL.
He got elected to the ANC’s National Executive Committee, so is sure to be re-elected next year.
Voters should choose carefully in next year’s elections, as it is a decision they will have to live with for five years.