The Chairpersons Responsible for Providing Leadership in Various Portfolio Committees in the National Assembly Are More Junior as Politicians Than Their Cabinet Ministers. of Course Almost All of Them Are from the Ruling Party. This Does Not Only Make Their Work Difficult but Also Compromises the Role of the Legislature in Holding the Executive to Account

Cape Times (South Africa), October 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Chairpersons Responsible for Providing Leadership in Various Portfolio Committees in the National Assembly Are More Junior as Politicians Than Their Cabinet Ministers. of Course Almost All of Them Are from the Ruling Party. This Does Not Only Make Their Work Difficult but Also Compromises the Role of the Legislature in Holding the Executive to Account


The chairpersons responsible for providing leadership in various portfolio committees in the National Assembly are more junior as politicians than their cabinet ministers. Of course almost all of them are from the ruling party. This does not only make their work difficult but also compromises the role of the legislature in holding the executive to account.

There is a credibility to the perception that the cabinet does undermine the parliamentary system sometimes, if not all the time.

As a result of this attitude towards parliament, the poor chairpersons in parliamentary committees find themselves in a dilemma because they are unable to hold their superiors to account, unless the incumbent chairperson is principled enough to uphold his or her constitutional obligations even if it means losing his or her seat as an MP in the next election.

This kind of modus operandi works perfectly well for all the loyal party members who are stringent in toeing the party line; they reap greater rewards by being elevated to the positions of cabinet ministers despite their incompetence. The big problem among many others is the current primitive proportional representative system.

Under this system, those party members who do not abide by the party's discipline regardless of what is at stake, are easily removed from the party lists come the next election. In a country where many government departments are dismally failing while under the stewardship of their political heads, this behaviour is not only weakening good governance but betraying the very same constitutional imperatives of the Public Financial Management Act.

Just a year ago very sweeping changes by the ruling party to the chairpersons of portfolio committees in parliament were made during the president's reshuffling of his cabinet. Surprisingly, many prominent chairpersons were demoted into backbenchers.

Even though their performance was neither here nor there in terms of the role of parliament but again the demotion was not in the interest of ensuring greater performance of the legislature. Lumka Yengeni, Nyami Booi and Vytjie Mentor, chairpersons respectively of the labour, defence and public enterprises committees, were sacked. …

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The Chairpersons Responsible for Providing Leadership in Various Portfolio Committees in the National Assembly Are More Junior as Politicians Than Their Cabinet Ministers. of Course Almost All of Them Are from the Ruling Party. This Does Not Only Make Their Work Difficult but Also Compromises the Role of the Legislature in Holding the Executive to Account
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