By Andrew Louw MPL, DA Provincial Leader:
The DA has reported errant MEC’s, who are consistently failing to reply to parliamentary questions, to President Jacob Zuma.
So far this year, the DA has submitted a total of 150 parliamentary questions to various government departments. To date, however, we have only received 31 replies, meaning that 119 questions remain unanswered. Last year, we submitted 101 questions, of which 79 remain unanswered.
Some MEC’s such as MEC of Agriculture Norman Shushu, MEC of Environment and Nature Conservation Tiny Chotelo, MEC of Transport, Safety and Liaison Martha Bartlett, and MEC of Sport, Arts and Culture Lebogang Motlhaping, have not even submitted a single reply this entire year.
Questions are based on very important issues including the Siyenza Group & Xigomve Business Enterprise, Disaster Management Centres, the Northern Cape Theatre, victim empowerment services, state owned farms, property leases, use of consultants, disciplinary cases of SAPS members and so on and so forth.
The DA last year reported the matter of unanswered questions to Northern Cape leader of Government Business, Mxolisi Sokatsha, as well as Speaker of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature (NCPL), Kenneth Mmoeimang, with no results.
At the end of August this year, the DA again reported our concerns regarding the failure by MEC’s to answer parliamentary questions to Premier Sylvia Lucas. It has been five weeks now and we have not even received a confirmation of receipt from her office.
This is not surprising, given that the Premier herself has five outstanding questions that are not yet responded to.
The attitude of provincial government leaders’ towards parliamentary questions is highly disturbing. This nonchalance was highlighted in August this year, when Social Development MEC, Mxolisi Sokatsha, told the portfolio committee that he had all the DA’s questions on his desk and that he had instructed officials not to reply to these questions.
The indifference of the Premier and her cabinet towards parliamentary questions is completely unacceptable.
South Africa is a country founded on democratic principles and parliamentary questions are one of the key tools used to hold government accountable. MECs therefore have a constitutional duty, not a choice, to respond to these parliamentary questions.
The DA has prepared a dossier detailing all unanswered questions, which has been sent to the Presidency.
It is clear that this issue requires analysis from a higher power, as internal provincial government processes have proved useless in this regard.
The Northern Cape government owes it to the people of this province to answer all questions, regardless of how awkward, embarrassing or telling the replies may be. We sincerely hope that an intervention by the President will elicit the answers that we are sorely searching for.