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MPs must stop praise-singing and defending ministers: DA's Siviwe Gwarube

Siviwe Gwarube says many MPs, especially those from the ANC, have assumed a posture of defending members of the executive instead of holding them accountable. File photo.
Siviwe Gwarube says many MPs, especially those from the ANC, have assumed a posture of defending members of the executive instead of holding them accountable. File photo.
Image: Jaco Marais

DA MP Siviwe Gwarube believes MPs have forgotten their responsibilities, leading to rampant corruption in government.

It was for this reason that the executive continued to get away with murder and evaded accountability — something that allowed state capture to flourish.

Gwarube was speaking in the joint seating of the National Assembly debating the state of the nation address (Sona) by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.

Many MPs, charged Gwarube, especially those from the ANC, had assumed a posture of defending members of the executive instead of holding them accountable. It was thus not surprising that minister such as Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Pravin Gordhan, she said, continued to ignore questions put to them by MPs.

They know they have a reliable defence team in ANC MPs who use their majority to stifle opposition views.

Gwarube called on MPs to do some soul-searching and go back to the basics of being representatives of the electorate so they can play a proper watchdog role over the executive.

“We have MPs who neither appreciate nor understand the gravity of the oath that they took. Forget that parliament has failed to truly represent the people of SA who sent us here. Parliament has become a lapdog and not a watchdog on behalf of people of SA.

“In a proper parliamentary democracy members of the executive would know that this institution is designed to hold them accountable and not shield them from scrutiny,” she said.

According to Gwarube, the ANC had normalised abusing its majority for the wrong reasons. It was an indictment on MPs that no budget presented before the house by members of the executive has ever been rejected and sent back.

We urgently need to change the culture of doing business in parliament
DA MP Siviwe Gwarube

Effectively, MPs had reduced themselves to rubber stampers of decisions of the executive, she said.

Gwarube said: “If one reads the state capture commission report, you see and realise that parliament has aided and abetted the theft of public money through its inaction. There should have never been a reason for a commission of inquiry had we had a functioning parliament.

“It is telling that parliament has never once amended or sent back a budget. Why can’t MPs put their political allegiances aside and work for our people?”

Had MPs comprehended fully what their responsibilities entail, state capture and looting that took place on Covid-19 procurement would have never happened.

“We urgently need to change the culture of doing business in parliament and we can do so by getting back to work in earnest and upholding the doctrine of separation of powers. MPs are not elected to be relegated to being praise-singers for members of the executive.”

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