/ 25 May 2008

DA says Parliament dodges questions

The Democratic Alliance on Sunday accused Parliament’s questions office of ”obstructing” the party’s parliamentary questions probing corruption.

The questions office had disqualified two written questions on the grounds that they were too vague in terms of the National Assembly’s guide to procedure, DA chief whip Ian Davidson said in a statement.

One of the questions — to Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla — asked ”whether she or her director general has at any time met with a legal representative or any person or persons acting for any individual or organisation under scrutiny by the German investigators who are probing alleged kick-backs [bribes] related to the countries’ multibillion-rand arms deal; if so, (a) how many occasions, (b) with whom and when did such a meeting or meetings

take place and what were the relevant details?”

The second question — to Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya — asked ”whether he or any member of his immediate family has any financial interest, including shares in Cash Paymaster Services (CPS); if so, (i) which family member and (ii) what is the financial interest and for how long has it been effective?”

Davidson said he would like to know in what way either of the questions was vague.

Both referred to a specific subject and asked for specific information.

”What is clear is that both questions probe corruption at an executive level,” he said.

The very purpose of parliamentary questions was to provide oversight over the executive by ensuring it remained transparent and that it remained answerable for its decisions and actions.

”However, the questions office is undermining the DA’s attempts to hold the executive to account by misapplying rules so that questions are obstructed that could potentially uncover corrupt practices by the executive.”

The distinct impression created was that both Mabandla and Skweyiya ”have got something to hide”.

Davidson said the DA would ask the questions office to reformulate both questions without sacrificing the essential thrust of both questions so that they were no longer classified as being vague and could be submitted to the ministers. – Sapa