A total of 68 legislature questions by the DA, relating to the general business of governance in the various Eastern Cape departments, have been left unanswered, some dating back as far as 2014. Have matters in the ANC administration in the province deteriorated to such an extent that MECs are afraid to answer questions that hold them to account?
This is not about the DA. Members of our community are being badly let down when MECs fail to answer questions where change or information is needed.
In terms of the Standing Rules of the Legislature, replies to questions must be submitted to the Secretary within 15 working days of the questions appearing on the Internal Question Paper for the first time.
If a question for written reply is not answered within the set time-frame, it must be transferred to an oral question paper and the relevant MEC must provide an explanation in the House for their failure to reply.
The DA is deeply perturbed by the attitude of the officials of the Legislature, and more specifically, the Secretary of the Legislature, Vuyani Mapolisa, for not ensuring that the rules of the institution are upheld.
During a legislature sitting last week (subs: Wednesday, 11 October), Deputy Speaker Bulelwa Tunyiswa made a ruling that a total of 87 outstanding questions for written reply, dating back to 2014, should be finalised on Thursday, 12 October 2017 and handed to members.
However, as at Monday, 16 October, 68 questions remained outstanding.
I have written to the Speaker, Noxolo Kiviet, to ask why officials of the legislature are allowed to undermine the rules of this institution and thereby enabling MECs to not be held to account. Corrective measures must be implemented to prevent this state of affairs of becoming the norm.
The DA demands that the MECs are compelled to rise in the House to give reasons for not adhering to the Standing Rules on replies to questions, to apologise and to undertake to comply in full with the Standing Rules in the future.
Legislature questions are one of the hallmarks to holding government accountable. We expect the Speaker to invoke the rules and to uphold the principles of democracy contained in the Constitution.
Edmund van Vuuren
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