Durban - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Tuesday released its fifth annual report on parliamentary oversight, finding that Parliament has failed to deliver on its duty to effectively scrutinise and oversee executive action.
Parliament has in recent years come under intense scrutiny for the way members of the majority party vote along party lines, instead of with their conscience.
ANC MPs in December voted against the adoption of the section 89 report recommending an impeachment process for President Cyril Ramaphosa over the Phala Phala scandal, and this year they voted against the creation of an ad hoc committee to look into the Phala Phala saga.
Four ANC MPs have, for the adoption of the section 89 report and the creation of an ad hoc committee, been referred to the party’s National Disciplinary Committee for refusing to toe the party line.
Outa's Parliamentary Engagement and Research Manager, Rachel Fischer, said where attempts were made to hold the executive and government departments to account, remedial efforts were usually drowned out by the majority muffling the voices of opposition parties.
“At the dawn of our democracy in 1994, Parliament held much promise, but nearly 30 years later that promise has been destroyed by the cruel reality of poor governance, dismal service delivery and a Parliament removed from and unresponsive to the pressing needs of the citizenry.”
Outa’s report, “Parliament: The fairytale that became a nightmare“, found that Parliament is failing to fulfil its democratic role.
“It has deviated from its promise of safeguarding democracy and has evolved into a dysfunctional institution. This transformation is characterised as a departure from the ideal, akin to a burnt-out shell where parliamentarians’ commitment to democratic values and the Constitution has waned. Without substantial institutional reforms, Parliament will remain ineffective and unable to fulfil its democratic function,” Fischer said.
She said Outa saw this report as part of strengthening parliamentary democracy, to fulfil the rights enshrined in the Constitution, and the organisation looked forward to engaging further with Parliament.
“Parliament is an essential cornerstone of our democracy, and it is only through constructive engagement that civil society can urge and demand accountability from our government.”