OUTA recently compiled two documents on Parliamentary oversight that confirmed and summarised that the very institution created to serve the citizens of South Africa, failed us on numerous occasions. But we do not intend to leave it at that. 

“The lack of public trust in Parliament as an institution for the people is partially due to the widely held view that it is ineffective, indecorous, and symbolic, rather than practically willing and able to assure the accountability and integrity of public servants,” writes Matt Johnston, OUTA’s Parliamentary Engagement Manager, in an affidavit he compiled. This document outlines how a captured Parliament effectively condoned state capture by failing to address it as it happened. Johnston details how the rules that govern MPs are open-ended enough to empower the elected officials to take action at their discretion, or to do nothing at all, with no real consequence either way. OUTA is therefore recommending that the rules be reviewed. We also shared the document with the Zondo Commission on State Capture. 

Liz McDaid’s report, aptly titled “MPs asleep at the wheel”, assessed the current modus operandi in Parliament, and – not surprisingly – finds serious underperformance. A copy of it was handed over to an official representing the Speaker’s office by Liz McDaid and Chris Scholtz, another member of OUTA’s Parliamentary team.

Both reports show that Parliament’s own rules allow it to take no action on state capture and maladministration in general, and that Members of Parliament (MPs) used this impunity to do nothing without suffering any real consequences. 

We hope that our work will spark internal motions at Parliament that will hopefully lead to improved operations and participation. OUTA is also considering legal options on challenging the rules which allow MP’s to get away without acting against serious issues such as maladministration. “People are not getting the delivery they are entitled to, because Parliament does not ensure that the executive does its work,” says McDaid.

Read the full story here.