The Citizen (KZN)

What last days of parly tell us

- Richard Chemaly

You’ve probably heard, but we have this election thing happening in a couple of months. You may think it’s as simple as selecting our seventh democratic parliament but what about the sixth one? Yes, the score cards will be out and there will be publicatio­ns who rate parties against their 2019 promises. That’s vegetable; healthy and necessary but hardly fun. The meat is in what the sixth parliament does in its dying days.

We’ve already learned about the Bill that allows the executive to change the threshold that determines whether political parties need to declare single donor funding – with hints of something to hide. We know that Cyril probably won’t sign a couple of Bills on his desk.

We can also see whether some people are putting their election campaigns ahead of their existing legislativ­e jobs. You know… doing that thing where they do nothing in the job that they have to convince you they need another five years to do nothing. It’s very South African.

The Parliament­ary Monitoring Group is already reporting some 44% attendance in parliament­ary committee meetings.

With about 30 Bills sitting in the national assembly and another 20 in the national council of provinces (NCOP), it’s surprising that from 2 April, members of the National Assembly have “constituen­cy period” until the election.

The poor losers in the NCOP will have their constituen­cy periods chopped halfway through April, and who knows what they’ll be doing after that?

And now a grade 9 math question: what do you get when you divide 400 MPs with five years? A remainder of 50 Bills. And it’s not like that’s their only job but when you’re earning 100k a month, you’re not really in a position to cry about being overworked.

Let’s be honest though, an MPs job is hardly up there with the toughest in the country.

Try being a domestic worker in a household that used to be upper middle class but is now just middle class and refusing to admit it. Now that’s a tough gig.

So for all the talk on the big changes, where are they? What has parliament actually given us over the last five years that’s worth talking about? A couple of amendments? Some copyright rubbish that will never be assented to? And where is our private dagga? That was a whole parliament ago that the Constituti­onal Court got stoners out of bed.

National Health Insurance? Expropriat­ion? Five years to get that right and they couldn’t even get it right. I’ve been around a long time and if there’s any company anywhere that pays 400 people over a million a year to get those kinds of results, the lights would probably be off.

The sixth parliament hardly inspired. Oh they dealt with shoddy judges and a weird public protector, sure. But it’s not really a bragging right to say that your biggest achievemen­ts were only as a result of terrible people offering you the low-hanging fruit of action, rather than actually progressiv­ely achieving what you set out for at the beginning of the term.

And now, as we sit at the horizon of term number 7, let us reflect on how insipid the last five years in the legislatur­e have been. But it’s not like you could expect much more from the batting partnershi­p of ol’ Thandi Modise and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

If there’s anything positive to say about this parliament­ary term, it’s that at least it would be one that’s easy to forget. But forgetful terms don’t exactly take the country forward and while everybody will likely be thinking of who the next president will be, there’s something a lot more pressing. We’re going to indirectly be choosing 400 people to pass laws and hold the exec and judiciary to account in a few months.

Here’s to hoping they offer us more than lukewarm soup with a remainder of Bills.

The sixth parliament hardly inspired. If there’s anything positive to say about this parliament­ary term, it’s that at least it would be easy to forget.

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