ANC Parliamentary Caucus year-end statement

10 December 2014

Table of Contents:

1. Constituency Work
2. Moving Local Government Forward
3. Executive Accountability
4. Legislative Work
5. Radical Economic Transformation on Committees` Agenda
6. Clean Audit Report
7. Erosion of Parliamentary Discipline

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip extends its well wishes to Members of Parliament as they enter the final week of their constituency work ahead of the start of the year-end holidays next week. We salute our public representatives for their dedicated and selfless service rendered to the people of South Africa during this first quarter of the first year of this current parliamentary term.

1. Constituency Work

The last two weeks have seen our MPs hard at work finalising committee programmes and engaging in constituency work across the country, in line with our activist parliamentary approach.

Our activist parliamentary programme ensures that our MPs are visible and rooted amongst the people they represent, intervene decisively and instantly when communities encounter service delivery problems, and actively serve as a bridge between Parliament and the people.The ANC remains the only party in this parliament with functional and effective parliamentary constituency offices spread across the length and breadth of South Africa, which are readily accessible and within reach.

Following the 2014 elections, we have been occupied with an extensive process of overhauling the ANC`s parliamentary constituency offices, ensuring that they are located nearer to the people - particularly within areas such as townships and villages. The process of allocating each MP with a constituency office, with an office administrator and office facilities, has already been finalised to ensure continuous interface with various constituencies.

2. Moving Local Government Forward

Recently, a meeting of the ANC Caucus endorsed the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs` "Back to Basics" programme, which is aimed at ensuring that all municipalities perform their basic responsibilities and functions efficiently. During this constituency period, all our MPs deployed in both Houses of Parliament will dedicate a substantial part of their time interacting with communities, councillors and municipalities and collate the necessary data to ensure that the objectives of this crucial intervention are realised. At the end of the constituency period, each MP will be required to submit to the Chief Whip`s Office factual information sheets regarding the service delivery situation in municipalities. The reports will cover information relating to, amongst others, good governance and administration; delivery of municipal services; sound financial management and accounting; and sound institutional and administrative capabilities.

This information, when added to information from the treasury and other agencies, will assist the government`s intervention programmes to ensure that the challenges facing local government are addressed.

3. Executive Accountability

We have observed an on-going positive improvement amongst members of the executive regarding their compliance to their parliamentary obligations. We are pleased that, despite competing and conflicting executive-parliamentary obligations at times, members of the executive have been faithful to their parliamentary work - which includes attendance of plenary sittings, committees and responses to both written and oral questions. This is a testament to the seriousness with which the executive regards their accountability to the people of South Africa.

In the last six months following the elections, midway in this first year of the current five-year term of parliament, a total of 2249 replies were given by the executive to about 3032 written questions. During the same period, the executive were in the House to provide 427 oral responses out of a total of 470 questions posed by MPs. These statistics were recorded as at November 2014, meaning that they do not exclude the number of questions withdrawn by MPs. They also do not include the responses which the executive may have provided to the few outstanding questions.

Parliament provides for a range of accounting mechanisms over the executive. In the last few months since the elections, the President interacted with Parliament on numerous occasions, including (i) State of the Nation Address (Sona), (ii) Response to the Sona debate, (iii) Presidency Budget Vote debate, (iv) debate in the NCOP, and (v) response to oral questions which was interrupted. In addition to these physical appearances to account to Parliament, the President continues to respond to written questions from Parliament. The President has dedicated this much time in Parliament because of his genuine commitment to account to the nation despite his non-MP status, which does not compel him regularly attend Parliament.

We welcome and encourage continued improvement in the levels of executive accountability to Parliament.

4. Legislative Work

Law-making, which is the essential feature of the programme of Parliament, has been central to the fundamental and qualitative transformation of our people`s material conditions. Our transformation of this country in the last 20 years has largely hinged on the ANC`s democratic legislative transformation agenda, which paved the way for restoration of human dignity, justice, freedom and equality.

Since the beginning of the current fifth Parliament, 12 Bills have been passed. Four of these Bills were revived from the fourth Parliament. There are currently six Bills before the National Assembly. Out of these six Bills, two were revived from the previous parliamentary term. They are the Medicine & Related Substances Amendment Bill and Medical Innovation Bill (a private members` Bill originally sponsored by the late IFP MP Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini.

As we mark 20 years of democracy this year, we are proud that this democratic Parliament - in which our people in their millions have consistently ensured ANC majority representation - has passed a total of 1 302 Bills.

5. Radical Economic Transformation on Committees` Agenda

The ANC has committed itself to the radical economic transformation in the next five years to drastically reduce the levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. This commitment has thus been the focal point of the agenda of the parliamentary committees, the engines of Parliament.

Currently, the labour committee is conducting public hearings across the country on the national minimum wage - which will ensure decent wages and improved quality of life for the workers and millions of families. The rural development and land reform committee has held successful oversight visits on the recapitalisation of farms and land restitution.

Following the enactment of the Marine Living Resources Amendment Act in the last term, the agriculture forestry and fisheries committee has followed up through oversight visits to monitor its phase-based implementation to ensure that fishing communities are economically empowered through fishing rights, quotas and ownership. The Mineral resources committee has been at mines and mining communities to push for the implementation of mining transformation charter targets, which include living wage, ownership and development of mining communities.

These are just some of the many interventions aimed at taking forward our radical economic transformation in this term. The ANC does not pay lip service to issues of transformation and economic development of our people; it carries out the electoral commitments it makes. We are humbled by the greater involvement of various sectors and communities in the public hearings and oversight visits.

6. Clean Audit Report

Once again we are proud with our consistent maintenance of financial controls pertaining to our parliamentary funding. As the majority party in this parliament, it is important that we do not only expect accountability on expenditure of public funds from those who account to parliament, but that we lead by example.

For the fifth consecutive year, the ANC in Parliament received an unqualified financial audit report. We are proud of these consistent clean audits. Parties in parliament are funded from the taxpayers` purse and therefore ought to utilise every cent responsibly and account to the people they represent. All parties are required under the law to provide audited statements on how they spend the funds which they receive from Parliament.

The clean audit reports we have received over the years shows that every cent was spent firmly in line with the law and was dedicated strictly to the work of the legislature, unlike some parties which abuse their parliamentary funds to bankroll branch political activities and frivolous litigations.

7. Erosion of Parliamentary Discipline

The beginning of the fifth term of our democratic Parliament has regrettably been tarnished by rampant anarchy, disorder, sheer roguishness disguised as militancy, political confusion and bankruptcy, misguided gimmickry and wanton disregard for the rules and laws governing the institution. The unquenchable thirst for headlines by some opposition parties through relentless stunts, rather than substance and robust debates that would take our country and her people forward, has unfortunately seen the regression of this six-month-old fifth parliament. All these have sought to erode the integrity and the confidence South Africans have in Parliament. We have seen the formation of unholy alliances and the application of underhanded tactics which had as its sole purpose the undermining of a democratic institution, erosion of its standing it and rendering it dysfunctional with a misguided hope that it would collapse a democratically elected government.

The desperate and shameless alliances have exposed deep ideological bankruptcies, which saw a party that purports to be a champion of land expropriation (EFF) indulging in public displays of affection with the defenders of ill-gotten land (FF+) while surrendering itself to its new master, the custodian of white privilege and symbol of anti-transformation, the DA. The only thing which these parties have managed to achieve through their stunts and unholy marriages is media headlines, not the advancement of their policies through sound arguments. To date, it remains unclear what they really stands for. It is unfortunate that, as all these stunts play themselves out, the majority of the smaller parties have cast aside their electoral mandates in favour of simply assuming the role of an unquestioning, back-up choir for the bigger opposition parties. As a result, diversity of views and robust multiparty debates have been compromised.

As the Majority Party, the ANC will never allow this agenda to collapse this important institution of our constitutional democracy under our watch.

As we have said before, only the rules, the law and the constitution stand between this institution and its erosion by these unruly elements. The law and rules must be applied consistently, fairly, fearlessly and without prejudice to protect this institution from decay.

The recent penalties against 20 EFF MPs, which follows a thorough, open and fair process, is demonstrative of an institution that is fearless and non-partisan in its enforcement of the rules and the law to protect its integrity. Our rules and laws have teeth and thus must bite. This must be done consistently for as long as such conduct rears its ugly head.

The ANC remains resolute in the implementation of its transformative policies and manifesto commitments through parliament as an oversight authority. We will never be distracted by cheap theatrics involving clear mischievousness, anarchy and unruliness as recently displayed in Parliament.

ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE ANC CHIEF WHIP

Enquiries:
Moloto Mothapo 082 370 6930