DA accuses ANC of meddling in parliamentary questions

The Democratic Alliance claims the ANC and certain parliamentary officials are “trying to pull Parliament’s teeth” by manipulating the questions ministers have to answer in Parliament.

Opposition chief whip John Steenhuisen will file a complaint in this regard with National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete shortly‚ in the interests of preserving Parliament’s oversight role.

Parliamentary questions are regarded the world over as some of the most important oversight mechanisms to ensure that cabinet members are forced to inform the public of what they are up to. Misleading or lying to parliament is a serious offence which could land the offending minister before the ethics committee‚ so questions are a powerful oversight tool.

Addressing the parliamentary press corps on Wednesday‚ Steenhuisen said cabinet and some parliamentary officials were in cahoots to ensure that uncomfortable information was not extracted from the government‚ and that tough questions were deflected from ministers.

“Words are changed in the questions to help obfuscation so that the truth is not known. Although the problem has been worsening like water becoming progressively warmer‚ it has escalated badly under the current parliamentary administration since last year’s election.”

DA parliamentary official Colin Wardle explained that ministers often incorrectly claimed that specific questions fell outside the ambit of their political responsibility‚ in order to deflect having to answer to the voters and be held accountable for their actions.

Steenhuisen also noted the increase in sarcastic replies which did not answer serious questions‚ notably from the department of justice.