Anger as questions scrapped

Durban - Changes to the programme of the sitting of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature caused a stir on Thursday, with the official opposition accusing the Speaker, Lydia Johnson, of shielding MECs.

This came as the session meant for MECs to answer questions from MPLs was scrapped owing to finalising amendments to the new set of rules of the legislature, among other things.

KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg. Credit: INLSA

DA caucus leader, Sizwe Mchunu, said the legislature did not give the parliamentary questions the attention they deserved. “Parliamentary questions are the single most important tool for opposition parties to hold KZN’s MECs and the provincial government to account,” Mchunu said.

He also said the scrapping of the question session deprived them of an opportunity to hold them accountable.

“The general manner in which the speaker and ANC chief whip have dealt with parliamentary questions and replies during the course of the year can only be described as chaotic,” he said.

Mchunu charged that his party had since January submitted 144 questions, but only received 71 responses over the past two days.

“Since then, some 70 replies have come through, many of which are now outdated or duplicates. This is a further indication of how little priority has been given to this important matter.”

He also said there had not been a single sitting for oral questions this year.

“The DA expects the speaker to present a full report on the reasons for this unacceptable state of affairs. As the speaker, she has a duty to remain impartial, yet her conduct shows clearly that she is not capable of distancing herself from party politics,” Mchunu said.

But ANC chief whip, Nontembeko Boyce, said the whips forum had agreed to postpone the questions after consultation and the DA had been part of that consultation.

Johnson said she noted concerns raised by the DA and assured them that the issue of parliamentary questions was being dealt with.