KZN MEC’s in contempt over unanswered parliamentary questions

Radley Keys, MPP

Chief Whip to the DA in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

According to parliamentary records, the KwaZulu-Natal executive has failed to answer 58 parliamentary questions submitted by the Democratic Alliance this year, with the Office of the Premier and KZN Transport MEC, Willies Mchunu yet to answer questions dating from as far back January.

The DA’s seven-member caucus has submitted a total of 249 questions this year.  By the end of September we had received 191 replies.  Most MEC’s have made numerous applications for an extension of time beyond what the Rules of the legislature accommodate – which is that a question must be answered orally at the next sitting of the House –with the result that a many questions have been deferred sitting after sitting.

This is appalling.  Not only have MEC’s failed to respond, they have also made a mockery of the Rules of the House.

According to a questions register from January to end September 2013, the worst offenders are KZN Transport and Community Safety MEC, Willies Mchunu with 12 replies outstanding, followed by KZN Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi with five, KZN Public Works MEC, Ravi Pillay with four and KZN Education MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, who also has four replies outstanding.  Overall, there is not one MEC who has a 100% track record when it comes to responding replies.

The failure to respond raises serious questions around the transparency and accountability of the KwaZulu-Natal leadership.

In particular we note the dearth of replies since August.  It would appear that Legislature responsibilities are being shelved, with MEC’s more interested in campaigning for the upcoming elections than attending to their administrative functions and their accountability to voters through parliamentary questions.

These questions are opposition Members most valuable oversight tool.  If they do not receive a response then government is not being held accountable and opposition parties cannot fulfil their obligation effectively.

The DA regards the executive’s failure to respond in a very serious light.  Effectively, MEC’s are in contempt of the House.

We expect the Legislature Speaker, Lydia Johnson, to uphold the two week rule and to take MEC’s to task.  They are accountable to the people of KwaZulu-Natal and must answer questions put to them.