Tag Archive | SACP

Parliament under siege

NEHAWU strike chaos in Parliament…  

Editorial …Cultures under the microscope….

parliamentary committeeTwo cultures are developing in South Africa.  One is to lie to Parliament during oversight meetings, or to put it more politely telling “untruths” as was re-defined by one DA MP after being told to apologise during investigations into statements by the Department of Trade and Industry on who had leases or not in terms of the Centurion Aerospace Village issue.

The other unpleasant culture, which is also growing fast, is to ignore the separation of powers between Parliament, the Presidency and the Judiciary. Not that Parliament or the Judiciary has done anything wrong but certainly the Nkandla issue is a demonstration of where the problem might lie.

If such instances, particularly in the case of “untruths”, the media is usually quick to pick these things up and a whole horrid mess, whatever it is, comes out in the newspapers.  

As a parliamentary affairs website, we keep away mainly away from the lurid headlines but unfortunately we are witnessing more and more departments appearing before their relative portfolio committees appearing dysfunctional and without policy. This must relate directly to a Cabinet not in touch with the business of governing and government.

Eye not on the ball

Most of the Cabinet, especially No.1, seem to be travelling to conferences worldwide. The portfoliozumatravel committee on energy, for example has not met in three weeks nor is any meeting scheduled, at this stage, before Parliament closes.

However, departments controlled by Ministers and members of the SACP are indeed busy which would indicate either two factions within the Cabinet and two distinct attitudes towards the use of Parliament and the passage of legislation.

Consequently, we have ignored the two perfectly good opportunities to report on developmental issues or state policy in the transport area where failure of policy or malfeasance is represented either by poor governance or telling “untruths”.  This is where the journalists present do a good job.

Business alerts only

What went on in the SAA and PRASA presentations to portfolio committees, both reporting a litany of poor governance, lack of financial controls and dubious tender processing, probably represents everything you know already.   Quite clearly these two state entities have made a total mess of things but missing targets or who appointed their best friend to get the job is not what we are really interested in.

Sadly, it all comes down from the top and we have a feeling that the relationship between Parliament as a working tool of democracy and Cabinet will worsen as we head towards an election and attempt to please voters.

As an example, a ridiculous piece of legislation entitled the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill has been withdrawn by the Cabinet and now referred by President Zuma to the Council of Traditional Leaders for the consideration first. This will result, if eventually comes before Parliament again and is bulldozed through, as being a forerunner in amending the Traditional Leaders Act Framework Bill in what appears to be a policy of establishing two systems of justice for South Africa.

Sand in the cogs

nehawuOn the second issue of Parliament not being allowed do its work, our President has said very little and certainly done nothing when a piece of land and buildings, not in Cape Town by law but in national South African territory and certainly a Key Point, was recently invaded by hooligans. Meetings have not been held for well over a week, except in certain essential cases such as Budget appropriation approval – probably, as one commentator sourly advanced, because nobody would get paid.

However, importantly, breaking up the working structure of Parliament is a completely different issue from the EFF being ejected from the National Assembly for breaking House rules.  This is a criminal issue.
In this case, a crowd waving sticks and knobkerries invaded committee rooms, singing so loudly that MPs could not think or converse with each other. The intent was clear. To break up Parliament. Most of the crowd were wearing red NEHAWU vests.

Embarrassing

All visitors, whether an official from Union Buildings, an Ambassador or a CEO from a corporate giant, have to obtain a special daily pass to get into Parliament by showing their credentials, yet none of these persons who broke into Parliament have been arrested or charged for wrongful entry. ParlyReportSA sits with many a consular representative as an observer and we hate to think what kind of reports are going back to Embassies, onwards and upwards.

It was a sad moment for the South African Parliament and even more sad that the violation neither disturbed the Presidency or invoked any retribution from the Speaker of the House. And it’s not because either party do not understand the Constitution but rather they seem not to care.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, earlier editorials, Justice, constitutional0 Comments

Parliament and the ANC at odds

Two messages in Parliament from the ANC….

sacp logoTo say that the African National Congress, or even the cabinet, is at odds with Parliament is not infer that the ANC as a party is trying to undermine the parliamentary process (although there are some that insist that this is the case) but rather to point out that with an election coming, the ANC Alliance is trying to speak to two audiences at the same time and not doing a particularly good job at either. In the governing alliance there is the extreme left represented by members of the South African Communist Party, represented by such parties as Dr Rob Davies, minister of trade and industry, responsible for BEE and the country’s contentious swing in trade relations to BRICS from the EU and the USA. Then there is Yunus Carrim, a member of the SACP politburo, who just assumed the communications mess; Jeff Radebe, SACP central committee, who is strongly involved in matters regarding the independence of the judiciary, countered it seems by stalwart DA member Dene Smuts at every step; Ben Martins, SACP central committee, who has just taken over the energy portfolio and appears not to be pushing any buttons at present.

SACP “heavies”

Then there is Jeremy Cronin, first deputy general secretary, SACP in transport, and in all this, Gwede Mantashe, on the right hand of president Jacob Zuma as secretary general of the ANC, also chairman of the SACP. One would therefore be correct in assuming that South Africa is way beyond just being on the left when it comes to being an ordinary socialist party, leaving such hard workers as Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in health, Collins Chabane and Trevor Manuel in the presidency structure; and others such as Edna Molewa looking almost “middle of the road”.

Certainly well left of centre

Consequently the messages coming out to business and industry as South Africa totters towards elections are many and varied in the public domain and one can sense that with press statements issued to the media on various subjects, politicians are hardening up on their adjectives and appearing consequently more “left” every moment. It would be wise to discount much that is said by politicians at this stage and rather listen to departmental heads in Parliament as they struggle to report the demands of the politicians and answer on service delivery. In the next few months what is said in the working portfolio committees will be of greater value in the period leading up to the moment when the ballot box concludes the situation.

Who pays in the end

Whilst many departmental officials may not be up to their jobs or meeting their targets contributing to the immense vacuum in service delivery that is taking placing in SA mainly because of its unskilled three-tier government, there is also an unfortunate chasm also developing in government policy and business on such issues as BEE, investment incentives and the degree of welfare support to the poorer section of the community and who should pay for this and how. How far government will go in regulatory controls, creating endless state advisory and control boards coupled with endless red-tape leading to a ‘nanny state” of supreme proportions, is not the only issue facing business.    Immigration, foreign relations, labour and land reform are all taking on hardened political profiles for a while.

Land of honey and state control

In Australia, where regulatory controls are endless, the mechanisms behind this monotonous life style are of first order and work well.   In South Africa they are not and don’t work well, hence the problem. How much of this is being driven by SACP–type thinking insofar as centralist, proletariat and state control principles are concerned is critical. There seems to be a division between those in the ANC who believe that BEE driven at a hard pace and is the answer to growth and those who believe that overseas investment is the key growth and jobs. Both avenues of thinking appear to be clashing within the ANC Alliance at the moment as political platforms are developed.

Elections looming

As the country discusses resources, growth and job creation with elections looming, means that what is said in Parliament at portfolio committee level remains where reality will remain, in order to monitor what is actually going on technically and from the viewpoint of truth. The prejudice that is built up in the mind by reading, in the media, of constant corruption amongst high officials; the statements by electioneering politicians preaching to the masses and the vacillation of  an unsure cabinet at these times can lead to a feeling of foreboding, perhaps that Parliament that is not working. The fact is that with an election coming, much will be said in the public arena will not be of a useful nature and much of the electioneering will have to be discarded as far as establishing what is actually going on in government.

Leaning to port

But there is, without doubt, as far as government policy is concerned a strong leaning to the left.   With a trade and industry minister and justice minister indicating that growth is directly related to the enforcement legally of black empowerment, new labour rules and adding criminalisation to the process, many of the Bills so hotly contested in Parliament will be blasted through by simple majority. This is bearing in mind that Parliament is currently engaged in the last two sessions of a five year government and there is a mighty backlog of Bills affecting those policies.

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