21 January 2013

South Africa: Why Isn?t Zuma Answering Questions in Parliament This Term?

press release

According to the provisional programme of the National Assembly, President Zuma will not be responding to oral questions to the President, as required by Rule 111 (1) (a) of the Rules of the National Assembly. It appears that Parliament's rules are being abused to protect the President from being held accountable.

I will raise this violation of the rules in both the Chief Whips' Forum and the National Assembly Programming Committee, and request that this mandatory question session be scheduled as soon as possible.

Members of Parliament are tasked with holding the President accountable in Parliament on a regular basis. The executive is facing a number of serious challenges this year, ranging from unemployment to the on-going mining crisis. The President simply cannot be allowed to avoid answering questions on these and other matters during the current term. This would effectively mean that he will not be questioned by Members for the first six months of the year.

This is just the latest example of an increasing trend to abuse parliamentary rules in order to shield the President from accountability. At the end of last year, the ANC effectively vetoed a motion of no confidence in the President. The DA is currently taking this matter up in the Constitutional Court.

Our Constitution provides for an executive oversight by Parliament and asking questions is a key mechanism to achieve this. The DA will do everything possible to ensure that Parliament respects this important constitutional mandate and that questions to President Zuma are scheduled this term.

Anything less will compromise the integrity of Parliament and send a message to South Africans that it is more interested in protecting President Zuma than ensuring he does his job properly.

Watty Watson, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance

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