Truancy by ministers angers MPs
PARLIAMENTARIANS are fast losing patience with “superior” ministers and their deputies who seemingly refuse to account to the national legislature and its committees.
This week, legislators called for tough action to be meted out against the errant executives.
One MP even suggested that truant ministers be dragged to Parliament even if they were kicking and screaming.
There have been complaints of ministers not attending parliamentary sessions to answer questions and respond to members’ motions, as well as meetings.
Leading the culprits is International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, who again snubbed a parliamentary session despite leader of government business Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the chief whips forum calling on her to attend. Instead she went to Vietnam. Nkoana-Mashabane has yet to appear before the portfolio to explain her decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe last month.
Parliamentarians are also demanding answers from Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi after she did not attend a portfolio committee to account to reports that she flew family and friends at taxpayers’ expense to attend her budget vote.
Ramaphosa had to field parliamentary questions from opposition MPs who want action, preferably her dismissal from the cabinet.
Also this week, the social development portfolio committee took a dim view on deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, who has been absent from its meetings.
Deputy Communications Minister Thandi Mahambehlala was a toast of the portfolio committee last week when it decided to take up her absence with her.
Responding to parliamentary questions, Ramaphosa said those who missed scheduled meetings without reasonable explanation could be sanctioned by the national legislature. “Such powers do not reside with the leader of government business. This is so because it is this House that can also sanction the leader of government business.”
The DA’s John Steenhuisen said he was disappointed and distressed that Nkoana-Mashabane had snubbed the parliamentary question session despite correspondence from Ramaphosa and chief whips’ forum urging her to attend.
“She is not accountable to Vietnam. She is accountable to this Parliament,” Steenhuisen said.