Cape Town - DA leader John Steenhuisen said on Wednesday he has written to the National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula calling for Parliament to reconvene “to find solutions to multiple crises hitting our nation”.
Parliament is in a constituency period which started in mid-June and is set to end in August.
Steenhuisen said it was inconceivable that Parliament was shut during the time of national crisis.
“It should be meeting around the clock to find solutions to the multiple crises hitting our nation simultaneously at a time when households and businesses are already battling to recover from two years of destructive lockdown,” he said.
Steenhuisen listed the crises to include stage 6 load shedding, the fuel price crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, the Phala Phala scandal, unemployment and growing lawlessness.
“Parliament needs to reconvene immediately so that we can tackle these problems with the urgency they require. This is even more critical since President Ramaphosa seems to be missing in action, or simply unwilling to speak to the nation about the state it is in and reassure people that action is being taken.”
The call for reconvening of Parliament comes over a week after Steenhuisen wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula asking her to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala “farmgate”.
The leader of the official opposition said the Constitution tasked Parliament to protect and promote the national interest by holding the executive to account and by debating and finding solutions to the main problems faced as a nation.
“The more the executive fails, the more crucial it is that Parliament steps up to the plate with solutions and oversight. This is especially so when the president himself appears to have forsaken the nation.”
Steenhuisen also said it was now 10 days since he wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula requesting that she urgently establish an ad hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala scandal, which implicates Ramaphosa in an array of serious crimes.
He noted that former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng previously found in a judgment that Parliament failed to hold former president Jacob Zuma to account in the Nkandla scandal.
“It is critical that the Speaker demonstrates Parliament’s commitment to its constitutional duty and the oath of office that each of its members swore by establishing an ad hoc committee to investigate the Phala Phala scandal.
“Mapisa-Nqakula’s clear reluctance to hold President Ramaphosa to account suggests Parliament is falling into the exact trap Chief Justice Zondo warned about in his state capture report, protecting the executive from the people of South Africa, rather than the other way around as is its constitutional duty,” Steenhuisen said.
He also said his party would not shy away from its constitutional duty to hold the government to account.
“We have offered solutions to all the problems besetting our nation, and where we govern we are doing what we can with limited mandate and budget to step in where national government is failing.”