By Mike Moriarty MPL, DA Chief Whip in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature:
The Gauteng Provincial Legislature plays a critical role in ensuring the provincial government under the stewardship of Premier David Makhura and his executive council are held to account.
Speaker of the legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, is vested with the powers to ensure that Gauteng’s peoples constitutional rights are upheld, that services are delivered and poor governance or any mismanagement are dealt with timeously.
For the first quarter of 2015, Speaker Mekgwe struggled to apply procedures and rules that guided sittings of the Legislature, and to a large extent allowed unruly behaviour to prevail.
This caused an unnecessary waste of time, and prevented opposition parties from holding Premier Makhura’s cabinet to account.
However, after numerous engagements with party whips, maters have improved to an extent where delays are less frequent and rules are strictly and uniformly applied during sittings.
On the downside, Speaker Mekgwe has been slow to act on allegations of nepotism and corruption within the institution.
After these allegations were brought to her attention, it took two months before she established a panel, with no clear timeframe or terms of reference, to investigate.
As far as oversight is concerned, the DA asked 1305 questions to the executive in 2015, of which 15% went unanswered.
However too many questions were either partially or unsatisfactorily answered, while MECs’ attendance to portfolio committee meetings remains a challenge.
Despite contacting the Speaker on numerous occasions to address these issues throughout the year, it was only taken up in November.
For all intents and purposes, the ANC continues to avoid oversight and accountability, while it seems that the Speaker remains content to allow the status quo to continue.
While she may tick all boxes as a functionary, she is by no means an inspiration and is unlikely to take any initiative of her own accord.
As long as Gauteng’s residents do not get quality and decent government services, the DA will continue to ensure that this government is held to account.