David van Vuuren MPL
DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature
The DA was informed minutes before the Free State Legislature’s Portfolio Committee of Economic Development was due to sit that it has been cancelled. We have also received notice that the Portfolio Committee of Social Services scheduled for today has been cancelled.
The reasons provided by the committees were that all MECs are scheduled to attend an EXCO meeting yesterday and today.
It is completely unacceptable that scheduled committees are cancelled at such short notice. Such cancellations not only delay the business of the legislature, but it also comes with cost implications since MPLs have to travel long distances from their constituencies to attend committee meetings.
More importantly, considering the high unemployment rate of 35% and a failing provincial economy, the Economic Development Committee has urgent work to do in order to address these challenges.
The cancellation of today’s Social Services Committee which deals with Health and Education will further delay the committee in discussing the measures both adopted to turn the financial situation in each department around.
The provincial Department of Education must account to the legislature on how it will address its R1.2 billion shortfall. The Department of Health, which is in crisis, must also table it’s strategy on how it will proceed to deal its R700 million shortfall in accruals. The DA still awaits the tabling of the strategic turn-around strategies of both departments.
Premier Ace Magashule and his MECs are accountable to this legislature. They must appear before scheduled committees and short notices of cancellations will not suffice. Committee chairpersons schedule committees in collaboration with the Leader of Government Business, MEC Tate Makgoe. Once committee meetings are confirmed, chairpersons must ensure, with due consideration to urgent eventualities, that MECs stick to the legislature’s programme.
I will write to both the Leader of Government Business, MEC Makgoe, and the Chairperson of Committees, Daniel Khoabane, that they ensure that this legislature functions as is expected by the people of the Free State who voted for us to be their representatives.
This legislature can no longer be a playpen to entertain the whims of the executive.
The legislature has a constitutional mandate to uphold and the DA, as the official opposition, will pursue every avenue available to ensure that this legislature upholds that mandate.