Senate wants audience with PM
LOBAMBA – Senate President Gelane Zwane says Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini must be called to parliament to explain on the issue of Bills not being passed.
The Senators were also displeased about similar comments made by Winnie Magagula, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), that certain Bills were not being passed because they were stuck in parliament.
The minister, who is in Cape Town, South Africa on official business, spoke during the Current Affairs news programme on national radio on Tuesday evening. Zwane said such a meeting would help legislators unpack what was in their hearts without the worry that the contents of the meeting would be released to the public.
"Some issues should be discussed in private, but for a minister (Winnie Magagula) to talk like she did outside the country is quite disturbing. We should speak about this here," said Zwane.
Furthermore, she said might be lacking for those who ascended to Cabinet posts, particularly on handling oneself in a foreign country.
"Bayamhleka (they are laughing at her) for speaking against her own country the way she did," added the president.
Magagula was expressing concern that the country was lagging behind in communication development compared to other countries in the South African Development Community (SADC) region because certain critical legislations were still not passing the parliament stage.
She particularly referred to the Communications Commission Bill of 2010 and also the Electronic Bill of 2010. She had said the country was expected to migrate to digital format by next year, but the delays did not augur well for it.
Senators took exception in what the minister had said because they felt that she had not only embarrassed the country, but had also left an impression that parliament was not effective enough.
Senator Moimoi Masilela who raised this matter first said imihlolo ke le (meaning this is outrageous) for the minister to give the media information which he termed as misleading. In his remarks he combined this matter with what Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini had said about many Bills being wedged in parliament.
"Where are the 40 Bills said to be stuck? They should come and explain to us because they have the privilege of seeing the king and we don’t, they just talk any how. But let’s find out where the delay is in completing Bills," said the senator.
Senator Thuli Msane said it was disappointing that the minister had spoken in this manner while in a foreign country.
"There are things that you can say in a foreign country and there are those that you cannot say. Politics is a dicey thing, you say what people want to hear, but was it ethical for the minister to speak like this?" said Msane.
She went on to say for newspapers to publish stories that parliament was not passing laws was very painful. She highligh-ted that parliament was not necessarily holding back Bills, but it was the ministers who determined the pace at which things were done.
"This is our job and to say that we can’t do it is unacceptable. We want a law that will protect His Majesty the King when people are outside representing the country," she said.
WHAT THE PM HAD SAID IN A PRESS STATEMENT ON MONDAY
It is my Constitutional duty today to express the concern of the Executive arm of Government regarding the exceedingly slow pace of Parliament in reviewing and processing draft legislation.
At the present time there are in excess of 40 Bills that have been approved by Cabinet since 2009, submitted to Parliament but not yet processed by both Houses. The list, a copy of which can be made available, though should be evident from Parliament’s own records, includes many very important pieces of legislation.
Among the outstanding draft legislation currently with Parliament is the Leadership Code of Conduct Bill, the urgency of which was emphasised by His Majesty in this year’s Speech from the Throne. Additionally, there is the Central Transport Organisation Bill, the Witness Protection Bill and the Electronic Communications Bill.
These are just a few of the many bills which are important to economic and social development.
Just as in an earlier statement I have commended Parliament for its vigour in monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of the Government, so today I take the opportunity to express serious concern from the Executive arm regarding the lamentable slowness with which Parliament is handling its primary function – that of the review and processing of legislation.
I trust that these words will encourage Parliament to carry out an urgent and thorough impr-ovement of its systems in order to expedite its review and processing of the outstanding legislation.
The stand-off between the Legislative arm and the Executive on this issue is disturbing indeed. The question is where do we feature (as citizens) in the whole saga? Are the said Bills at our interests or at the interest of few individuals somewhere? If these Bills were initiated with our inputs and for our welfare as citezens of the country then they would have been passed by now. We can't put the blame entirely on parliament (that is if we say they carry the mandate of the people). Thanks
Jun 7, 2012, 9:54 AM, Sicelo G (email@example.com)
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