Govt backs ministers over parliamentary questions

The government moved on Friday to discount suggestions that Cabinet ministers are failing to answer questions in Parliament.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s office — in his capacity as leader of government business — has noted reports citing the absence of some ministers from Parliament when they were expected to answer parliamentary questions, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said.

“Evidence suggests that all members of the executive appreciate their obligations and are in fact doing more than just compliance, even as they face mammoth service-delivery obligations that often demand their involvement in activities away from the National Assembly,” he said.

Regarding the five Assembly question sessions held this year, all oral questions put during question time were either answered by that minister or their deputies.

The only exception to this was on August 19, when Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi was unable, at the last minute, to attend, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka, who was unwell.


Baloyi’s sudden unavailability was occasioned by having to attend to the public-sector strike.

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel was also unavailable on this day, but had made arrangements for another minister to respond to his questions.

That question day had also been moved from the usual Wednesday to a Thursday due to a joint sitting on the Fifa World Cup.

Further, in terms of the Rules of the National Assembly, a deputy minister or another minister could answer questions for an absent minister.

Explanations
Maseko said that as far as Motlanthe was aware, ministers provided Parliament with explanations when they were unable to be present for questions. Parliament “may wish to consider improving on its internal communications so as to ensure that chief whips of parties are aware of the reason for the absence”, he said.

Motlanthe also regarded answering parliamentary questions by ministers as very important.

Among other things, on March 3, he had informed the Assembly that he had written to all ministers who had unanswered written questions. He requested an explanation for each unanswered question, as well as the steps they would take to ensure they answered all questions as prescribed.

As a standard procedure, Motlanthe also presented fortnightly reports to Cabinet which, in addition to updating the executive on the parliamentary programme, detailed the number of unanswered questions per minister.

Most ministers responded positively by sending replies to Parliament as expected. Others explained the constraints and committed to comply as soon as practicable.

Should Parliament deem it fit to review its rules to augment and counter perceived non-compliance, it was within its right to do so, Maseko said. — Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

BMW X7: Is this the peak of our greed?

Even next to its luxury peers, the seven-seat behemoth is a little too much

Africa and the US under the Biden administration: A response...

A democratic administration is likely to revert to the US’s default position on global affairs, which doesn’t leave much for Africa to celebrate

Mpumalanga premier fined for attending Mthembu funeral without a mask

Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane goes into isolation and pledges to buy 1000 masks to show her ‘remorse’

Searching for Chippo: How experts have been tracking the elusive...

There have long been sightings of hippos in the city’s leafy northern suburbs, says a specialist team
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…