By Andrew Louw MPL, DA Provincial Leader:
The DA has reported the Northern Cape Leader of Government Business, Mxolisi Sokatsha, to the Premier for his insolence regarding the answering of parliamentary questions.
During the Social Development Department’s first quarter performance presentation last week, MEC Sokatsha told the portfolio committee that he has all the DA’s parliamentary questions on his desk and that he has ordered departmental officials not to submit replies.
South Africa is a country founded on democratic principles and parliamentary questions are one of the key tools used in democratic governments to facilitate the flow of information that is necessary to hold governments accountable.
Sokatsha’s unashamed disregard of democratic processes is shocking, disturbing and totally unacceptable. This is even more so considering that his role as Leader of Government Business actually requires of him to keep his fellow members of the executive in check.
This year, the DA has submitted 136 parliamentary questions to various government departments 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. To date, however, we have only received 28 replies, meaning that 108 questions remain unanswered. Last year, we submitted 101 questions, of which 79 remain unanswered.
Sokatsha’s decision to undermine the role of parliamentary questions has exposed his true colours. He clearly does not respect the constitution of this country or the legislature. And he most definitely does not deserve to serve as a government leader in this democracy. In fact, it is precisely because of politicians like him, who shun open and transparent government processes, that government inefficiency and corruption have been allowed to flourish.
The DA anticipates that Premier Sylvia Lucas will consider our concerns regarding Sokatsha’s defiance of parliamentary processes very seriously. Ultimately, Sokatsha should be fired as the Leader of Government Business but at the very least, he should be instructed to apologize to the legislature and ordered to regularly report to the Premier on outstanding replies.
The DA will give the Premier an opportunity to address our concerns but if she fails to respond in a manner that is befitting of our democracy, we will not hesitate to escalate this matter to a higher level.