A TO Z OF OUR PARLY
Andisiwe Makinana takes us through a turbulent 2015
A Absenteeism Although they do their jobs under close public scrutiny and despite Parliament installing a multimillion-rand biometric system to improve attendance, some MPs simply do not pitch up for work and there are absolutely no consequences.
B Bills A total of 42 bills were tabled in Parliament this year and 25 were passed, including four that are needed to give effect to the budget and the midterm budget policy statement. Some were passed on the second or third attempt, while a few were held over for 2016.
C Catcalls Yes, MPs are not above this juvenile behaviour. Cope MP Deidre Carter has on several occasions complained to presiding officers about the sexual harassment from the National Assembly’s “Castle Corner”, a rowdy section of the House occupied by ANC backbenchers.
D Delela, also Doris Dlakude When Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs “niyadelela” (you are being disrespectful), the least he expected was for that rebuke to trend on social networks. It did.
On paper, Dlakude is the ANC’s deputy chief whip, but in reality, she runs the show. She is a no-nonsense woman and a rising star in the party. E EFF Critics continue to lambast the red overalls for their “disruptive” politics, but supporters say their brand of politics is what Parliament needed to shake up the rather comfortable governing party. F #FeesMustFall When the #FeesMustFall students marched on Parliament and broke through the parliamentary gates, public representatives were caught unprepared and continued inside with business as usual, while outside the National Assembly building, the police fired stun grenades and tear gas.
G Growth As in lack of economic growth, which has everybody tightening their belts, including MPs, who no longer get the luscious spread of food they used to get in portfolio committee meetings.
H Honourable MPs insist on the title Honourable and go to great lengths in doing so, even hurling insults while demanding to be addressed as “Honourable So and So”.
I Inspector general of intelligence (Spooks ombud) This is a constitutional requirement, but the position has been vacant for nine months because the ANC cannot get support for its preferred candidate, Cecil Burgess.
When his appointment came to the House for debate and approval, even ANC MPs stayed away ensuring there was no quorum for the appointment to be considered.
J Justice committee Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development has become a joke, but one with a sharp edge for Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Her chapter 9 institution is being singled out for criticism by ANC MPs led by committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga.
K Kohler Barnard Possibly the hardest-working DA MP in Parliament, but Dianne Kohler Barnard’s future in the institution is hanging by a thread after she shared a Facebook post fondly remembering PW Botha’s apartheid government.
L Love There was very little of it to go around in Parliament this year.
M Mgidlana Gengezi Mgidlana, new secretary to Parliament, did not endear himself to anyone in the institution. Mgidlana wreaked havoc, from politicians to staff members and journalists.
N Nkandla, also Nhleko Nkandla continued to dominate Parliament as it has done in the past three years. EFF MPs disrupted President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address in February to ask about Nkandla.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko sweated buckets while presenting his controversial Nkandla report, accompanied by video clips, with O Sole Mio – the song Venice’s gondoliers sing to tourists – playing in the background. His presentation set out to prove that Zuma did not benefit in any manner from the Nkandla upgrades.
O Opposition It was a big year for Mmusi Maimane. He was elected the new DA leader and tried to stamp his authority in Parliament, but despite beautiful speeches, he did not rise to the occasion.
P Performance bonus Parliament was brought to its knees towards the end of the year as most of its employees embarked on an unprotected strike demanding that their performance bonuses be paid based on a percentage of their total yearly salary.
Q Question time The absence of ministers and President Zuma’s lack of answers drove the opposition to frustration at every session set aside for Q&A, but the presiding officers were on hand to defend the executive.
R Rules After many years, the review of the rules was finally completed, but Parliament could not adopt them in time before the end of the parliamentary year.
According to the new rules, it will be goodbye to overalls and hard hats, and only party whips will be allowed to rise on a point of order.
S Signal jammer Shockingly, the state used a signal jammer at the state of the nation address. This cut off electronic communications for those in the House, including journalists who could not do their work from the press gallery.
T Thixo wase George Goch Only Zuma knows about him, but it seems he’s a god who performs miracles for the president.
U Uniform of waiters The white-shirted brigade of public order police who bundled EFF MPs out of Parliament during the state of the nation address.
V Vetting Parliament launched a programme to re-vet and determine the security competence of its officials, saying this was required by Parliament’s security policy. But the timing of the vetting remains suspicious, especially since Parliament employees are vetted in any case when they join the institution.
W Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Yes, she is still an MP, although we may have seen her only once in Parliament this year. Someone please give her a GPS.
X Xenophobia A word that does not exist in the vocabulary of ANC MPs. According to the ANC, the word and xenophobia do not occur in South Africa.
Y Year 2015 It was a nonstop, hurly-burly, politics-packed, dramaridden, tumultuous 12 months.
Z Giggle, Zuma giggle ... is it hurting you?
Dianne Kohler Barnard