President Jacob Zuma is not sidestepping his duties to answer questions in Parliament, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said on Tuesday.
“The continuing statements by political parties that President Jacob Zuma has avoided going to Parliament are incorrect, and are creating a wrong impression,” Maharaj said in a statement.
“The president has fulfilled his parliamentary responsibilities since his election as president in May 2014 to lead the fifth administration.”
Zuma is required to answer questions in Parliament four times a year.
Maharaj said Zuma was not an MP and was only required to answer questions by invitation. “The president is required to answer questions once per quarter in the National Assembly. He was elected and inaugurated in May 2014. That is when we begin counting for the new term of office of the president,” Maharaj said.
Zuma appeared in Parliament once this year, on August 21, to answer questions – but he could not conclude the session because of the disruption of the House by Economic Freedom Fighters MPs.
Maharaj said Zuma would continue answering questions both in writing and when invited to orally respond to questions in both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.
“The presidency is working on the president’s calendar for 2015, and as usual it will include parliamentary responsibilities at the required times.” He said these included the State of the Nation address, the budget speech by the minister of finance, the budget vote of the presidency, and questions.
“We wish to emphasise that there should be no expectation that the president will appear regularly in Parliament, given the fact that he is not a Member of Parliament.”
Over the past few months opposition parties have criticised Zuma for not making himself available four times this year to answer questions in the National Assembly.
Last week, the Democratic Alliance introduced a motion to censure the president but it failed to pass when the ANC majority voted against it. – Sapa