Mark Steele, MPL
Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature
Just over 3 months ago, the people of KZN showed their belief in the DA’s message, voting us into the position of Official Opposition and giving us the mandate to hold the ANC and its KZN Executive to full account. The DA leads the legislature in setting the discourse for debate with the ANC and we are challenging every MEC to account for their policies and departmental budgets.
The DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature takes this endorsement seriously and today we are pleased to announce a quantitative measure of our performance during the first quarter of the new parliamentary term.
Our performance has been measured in terms of Written and Oral Questions to MEC’s, Motions with Notice, Declarations, Noting of Objections, Divisions on Votes in the House and Media and Communications. The statistics are for the period 26 May to end August.
As a Caucus we have worked to maximise these opportunities in order to deliver real and meaningful opposition.
- The DA in the KZN Legislature has asked 111 Written Questions of the KZN Executive
- Of these, 39 remain unanswered with some dating as far back as June.
Of the questions asked there were;
- 15 service delivery questions and 8 governance questions under Health
- 6 service delivery and 4 governance questions under Human Settlements
- 6 governance questions under Education
- 6 service delivery and 6 governance questions under COGTA
Those departments which performed worst in responding to our questions are;
- KZN’s Community Safety Department (9 outstanding replies)
- KZN’s Human Settlements Department (7 outstanding replies)
- And KZN’s Health department (7 outstanding replies)
The number of questions posed by the DA stands in stark contrast to other opposition parties. According to Legislature records, the IFP submitted 8 questions while the ANC submitted 3. By the end of August, neither the NFP nor the EFF had submitted a single written parliamentary question since the beginning of the new term.
It is clear that the DA has truly led the opposition with a margin of 100 questions over all other parties combined. The lack of questions is a clear indication that none of these parties have any intention of holding the Executive to account.
During the past 3 months, the DA in the KZN Legislature tabled 23 motions. Of these;
- 12 were portfolio related
- 5 were political motions
- 4 were of matters related to the KZN Legislature
- And 2 were constituency related
Topics raised include;
- the ongoing non-payment of KZN teachers
- broken CT scanners at leading provincial hospitals
- no casualty facility at Newcastle hospital
- R206million spent on rectification of low cost housing in KZN while backlogs grow
- the Premier’s summarised version of the RTI Commission of Inquiry rather than a full report
- yet another call for a ban on blue light brigades. Subsequently the MEC for Transport has announced that blue light brigades will be subject to stringent controls, which vindicates the DA’s stance on the matter.
Divisions on Votes
When it came to approving the provincial budget for 2014/15 the DA called for divisions in the following votes. A division signifies the complete opposition of the Party to a government proposal and indicates that were the DA in government we would make significant changes in these areas.
– Vote 1: Office of the Premier. We have long opposed both the youth ambassadors programme and the Sukume Sakhe project because they are used to promote ANC party interests over service delivery priorities. The DA also wants the Integrity Unit moved from being under political control to becoming a properly independent agency of the provincial government dedicated to investigating corruption.
– Vote 2: Legislature. The DA is opposed to the use of R5 million to investigate the feasibility of a new legislative complex which is simply an act of political extravagance. We also want to see the R36 million spent on party rallies masquerading as public participation moved to strengthening the Legislatures oversight model.
– Vote7 (Health) and Vote 13 (Social Development). In both cases we voted against the Programme 1 of the Departments. In Health we have no confidence in the MEC and senior management of the Department turning around the dismal record of crises at major hospitals, while Social Development has for a number of years failed to spend its budget.
To their credit the IFP voted with the DA in most of these divisions but the NFP and EFF followed in the footsteps of their colleagues in the National Assembly by voting with the ANC in all divisions. The people of KZN need to know where the real opposition to the ANC is to be found.
Media and Communications
The DA communicated extensively and proactively with the people of KZN during this quarter. During the past 3 months, the DA;
- Issued 109 media statements and letters to the editor on behalf of MPL’s
- Kept the public aware of issues relating to governance and service delivery failure by breaking news stories in the province
- Highlighted the day to day suffering of many as a result of these shortfalls
Given these performance outcomes it is clear that the DA in the KZN Legislature is a force to be reckoned with. It is also clear that this has come to the attention of the ruling party and conduct which does not belong in the House has marred this first session of the new term.
The KZN Legislature is a dynamic and diverse environment. It is an environment where there should be robust debate within the confines of mutual respect. Regrettably this has not been the case and the Speaker has failed to hold ANC MPL’s to account over this.
As KZN’s leading opposition party the DA has a duty to expose irregularities, corruption and inefficiencies and hold the provincial government and its ANC-led Executive to account. We will continue to do so as we work towards a brighter future for the people of our province.