Farwell Speech by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Comrade Doris Dlakude in the National Assembly

20 March 2019

As we close the curtain on this 5th Term of Parliament, and taking the last 25 years of our democracy into account, we must be proud of the road we have travelled as a country. Today, South Africa is indeed a better country than what it was in 1994, and it is even better than what it was when we arrived in this Parliament in 2014.

As the legislative arm of the State, we have had a very successful term of office where our Parliamentary democracy was tested and strengthened. As our democracy is maturing, the people of South Africa have over the past five years taken a keen interest in our work as parliamentarians, thereby rightfully holding us accountable.

We have seen massive interest in our legislative and public participation processes. We have had marches to Parliament and sometimes even protests within the parliamentary precinct. All these actions of popular struggle by the masses of our people are indicative of a working, fully functioning parliament within the context of a maturing democracy.

As the ANC, we are particularly proud of the fact that we have been able to improve the lives of our people through passing very historic and progressive pieces of legislation. We can applaud ourselves as this collective of legislators for having processed 107 pieces of legislation from 2014 to date. Among these, is the historic National Minimum Wage Bill which sets the wage floor at R20 per hour thus improving the wages and living conditions of 6 million workers who earn slave wages which are far below the prescribed National Minimum Wage.

Another historic piece of legislation passed in this term of Parliament is the Political Party Funding Bill which outlaws foreign funding for political parties and obliges political parties to disclose their sources of funding.

On the economic front, we just passed the Financial Matters Amendment Bill which enables the establishment of a State-Owned Bank. This law will greatly benefit not only the state but also ordinary South Africans who continue to fall victim to the profit driven actions of commercial banks. In an effort to decisively deal with irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure by government departments and entities, we passed the Public Audit Amendment Bill which empowers the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) to recoup monies which have been looted from the fiscus to ensure that state funds are directed to service delivery.

In dealing with collusion, corruption and white male domination in the private sector, we passed the Competition Amendment Bill to ensure that companies found to have colluded and participated in anti-competitive behaviour are appropriately sanctioned as well democratising the private sector. We can therefore be proud that as this 5th Parliament we have truly delivered on our legislative mandate.

In the most historic development since the advent of our parliamentary democracy, Parliament considered and adopted the report of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) on the review of Section 25 of the Constitution, to expropriate land without compensation. The Ad Hoc Committee established to implement the actual Constitutional Amendment of Section 25 tabled their Interim Report and asked that this work be concluded by the 6th Parliament.

We can be very proud of our efforts to conduct oversight and hold the executive accountable. Our members in the National Assembly successfully conducted investigative inquiries into public entities such as the SABC, Eskom and the various other departments such as Home Affairs and Water and Sanitation. These inquiries unearthed scary details of the poor state of corporate governance in some of our government departments and entities. The reports on these inquiries have been tabled in the National Assembly and recommendations are to be duly implemented.

Though we have had many successes, we have at times erred in our judgement calls because we are all just human.  The Constitutional Court judgement on the Nkandla Ad-Hoc Committee report is one such example whereby as parliament, we were found wanting on a matter of serious importance. We have learnt from that error of judgement and reaffirm that such omissions must and will never ever happen again. Parliament must never, ever be found to have abdicated its responsibly to hold the executive accountable.

One of this Parliament’s many watershed moments in the last five years was the adoption and implementation of the new and overhauled rules of the National Assembly. The adoption of the new rules was a culmination of a lengthy process intended to enhance the governance of the business of the House, and to align it firmly with the Constitution, current conventions and practices. We tightened the rules of debate and rules of conduct of members in the House to ensure consistency and order during sittings of Parliament.

It is for the first time since this democratic Parliament was convened in 1994, that parliament has an avenue to remove any person who acts in a gross disorderly manner using the rules. This ensures that the Parliament of the Republic maintains its dignity as the legislative arm of state representing the people of South Africa.

Moving forward, we must as a country start to prepare ourselves for the next 25 years and we must start with an architecture of our next parliament. We must start thinking about the kind of a new Parliament we would like to have. What kind of infrastructure it must have; the culture and proceedings we want to introduce and where its location ought to be.

Our current infrastructure does not adequately cater for our needs as a legislative arm of State. Joint Sittings of the two Houses of Parliament are impractical due to space constraints. Often committee rooms are not big enough for us to hold meetings and host members of the public for public hearings. The Institution is also forced into leasing space from nearing hotels at exorbitant costs.  

The discussion around the location of the seat of Parliament as previously announced must be concluded. The financial resources used to fly MPs, Members of the Executive and their support staff in and out of Cape Town on a weekly basis could in the long run be redirected towards the delivery of basic services.

Our parliament must also have better offices. We have a responsibility to build this parliament to be consistent with our democracy, including our rest rooms. During Apartheid, Parliament was meant for males, white males to be precise. As a democratic State, we thus have the responsibility to build a gender sensitive Parliament. A Parliament which recognises the need for child rearing facilities for members of Parliament who are care givers. 

For parliament to do its oversight work adequately, it must have world class research, legal and other professional capacity assisting committees of Parliament with content in order for our oversight work not to dependent on those we are oversighting. We must have an independent ability to do oversight over the executive. This requires adequate investment in human resources. Therefore, the manner in which Parliament is funded as an arm of State must also seriously be reviewed.

On behalf of the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, we thank the African National Congress for having given us this opportunity to learn, grow and lead. We also thank the members of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus for their support. Our Thursday Caucus meetings were characterised by robust debates and sharp political engagements. Though sometimes we differed on political matters, we remained true to the policies of our glorious movement.

The task to lead in the ANC is never one which is carried out by one individual. Hence in the ANC, we do not have an “I” in our vocabulary, we speak of “we” precisely because we have an appreciation that the “collective” takes precedents over the “individual”. We therefore thank our comrades in the different leadership structures of Caucus for their collective support, wisdom and dedication in service of our movement and the people of this country. We thank comrades in the Political Committee of Caucus, the ANC Strategy, our Whips and Chairpersons of Committees and ANC Study Groups.

We also thank our colleagues from other political parties for their comradery over the past five years. Our engagements in the Chief Whips Forum, the National Assembly Programming Committee Meeting and even on the chamber floor have always been honest and robust.

I therefore thank my colleagues from other parties who regularly participated in the Chief Whips Forum ensuring that we collectively go about the business of Parliament through consultations and consensus. Though we all carried a different political mandate, it has been through our collective efforts that this Parliament has been a functioning Parliament.

Over the past five years, some among us have fallen prey to cheap political point scoring stunts often leading to totally unacceptable and unparliamentary behaviour. Those who will be fortunate enough to be given another opportunity to return to Parliament as a public representative, must always remember that you are not here representing your jacket, but the electorate who gave you a political mandate to be here.

We thank the executive leadership of Parliament as led by Cde Baleka Mbete in the National Assembly and Cde Thandi Modise in the National Council of Provinces for having demonstrated astute leadership over the past five years. The exceptional leadership of these two outstanding women bares testimony to the saying “wathinta umfazi, wathinta imbokodo” (you strike a woman, you strike a rock). Though our conduct as MPs has sometimes given our Presiding Officers greys hairs, they continued to conduct themselves in the most professional manner.

Over and above our sharp contradictions as parties, we have also had very funny moments in the last five years. We remember humorous moments such as “honourable member withdraw delela” and “honourable member, I do not recognise you” which have become social media jokes with the faces of our presiding officers. We can also be proud that our Parliament was this week featured in the internationally acclaimed “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” where Trevor relayed his experience of receiving a warm welcome when he visited our Parliament as a guest of the President two weeks ago.

As Parliamentarians, we are nothing without the support of the individuals who are employed in our political party Caucuses and Parliament as an institution. We thank the hard-working patriots who have served this Parliament with absolute distinction. We want to especially thank the staff of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus who are the bedrock of the ANC in Parliament. We would not have had all these achievements had we not had a dedicated cadreship serving the movement here in Parliament.

As this Parliament rises today, we rise missing 19 members whom we started this journey with us five years ago. May we rise for a moment of silence to remember –

  1. Nosipho Ntwanambi (ANC - NCOP):
  2. Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini (DA):
  3. Yolanda Botha (ANC):
  4. Hlakudi Nkoana (ANC):
  5. Minister Collins Chabane (ANC):
  6. Eugene von Brandis (DA – NCOP):
  7. K S Mubu (DA):
  8. Raesibe Nyalungu (ANC):
  9. Bonisile Nesi (ANC):
  10. Trevor Bonhomme (ANC):
  11. Timothy Khoza (ANC):
  12. Tarnia Baker (DA):
  13. Beatrice Ngcobo (ANC):
  14. Fezeka Loliwe (ANC):
  15. Mam Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (ANC):
  16. Sbusiso Radebe (ANC):
  17. Zelda Jongbloed (DA):
  18. Nokhaya Mnisi (ANC):
  19. Minister Edna Molewa (ANC):

The contributions of these members of parliament in service of the people of South Africa will forever remain in our hearts. May they continue to rest in peace.

As we go back to our constituencies to seek a renewed mandate on the 8th of May, we remind the people of South Africa that it is only the ANC which carries the people’s plan for a better life for all.

Vote ANC and let us grow South Africa together.

I thank you.