Answering written questions not a choice – MECs legally bound to do so

By David van Vuuren, DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The below member statement was delivered by David van Vuuren (MPL) during a sitting of the Free State Provincial Legislature today:

At our last sitting this House degenerated into chaos because of this tendency by MECs to do all they can to remain unaccountable to the people of the Free State.

The Leader of Government Business, MEC Tate Makgoe, unashamedly stood up in this House and proclaimed that he will not answer questions in writing. He was supported in this by his colleague, the MEC for Health, Benny Malakoane.

It came as no surprise since both the Departments of Education and of Health are the worst performing provincial departments in the Free State, if not in the country.

MEC Makgoe further went on to say the reason why MECs do not wish to answer questions is because the replies get published in the media and that this serves as proof that the DA only seek to embarrass the ANC-led government of the Free State.

Honourable Speaker,

What MEC Makgoe fails to understand is that it is not the DA that embarrasses the ANC-led government of the Free State. It is the questionable actions, or inaction, of ANC deployees in government that embarrasses the ANC. Even Gwede Mantashe has said as much at the ANC’s General National Council this past weekend.

Furthermore, it is not for MEC Makgoe or MEC Malakoane to unilaterally to decide that when or how they will answer questions. The Standing Rules and Orders make it clear that written questions must be answered within 10 working days. Just because answering questions are uncomfortable does not excuse MECs from answering them.

The ANC once stood for freedom, justice and accountability. Twenty one years into democracy these values are almost non-existent in the ANC.

I want to make it clear. The DA is committed to the principles of freedom, transparency, and accountability as enshrined in the Constitution. And we will forever ensure that government adheres to these principles.

MEC Makgoe must answer the 17 outstanding written questions to his department. MEC Malakoane must answer the 18 questions outstanding to his department. Both MECs must stop trampling on the Standing Rules and Orders of this Legislature and the Constitution.

It is a pity that MEC Makgoe could not attend today’s sitting, but then again, we are not surprised. This statement would remind him of his constitutional obligations.