ANC slams DA’s ‘petty’ claims
Cape Town - The African National Congress on Sunday hit back at the Democratic Alliance for criticising this week’s parliamentary programme.
“The DA’s allegation that this week’s National Assembly plenary sittings and meetings of committees have been cancelled is a blatant lie intended to mislead the media and the public,” ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani’s office said in a statement.
The media, in particular, had no reason to fall for the DA’s “dishonesty and cheap propaganda” as it regularly observed meetings of the National Assembly programming committee (NAPC), where Parliament’s programming matters were openly and transparently discussed in advance, it said.
“Therefore any suggestion that the programme was dictated upon by the ANC majority is utterly disingenuous and petty, as any programme is a product of discussions and agreement by parties in attendance.”
This week’s programme of Parliament was declared a “committee week” with a view to decrease the number of House sittings to afford parliamentary committees time to finalise critical legislation before them and process important appointments to the boards of state institutions.
“Committees are the engines of any Parliament; a great share of the overall work of Parliament takes place in the committees, which subsequently inform the agenda of House sittings.”
Thus, Parliament from time to time dedicated a week or so to the work of committees.
In terms of the agreed committee week programme, there would be a National Assembly sitting on Wednesday to deal with questions to the governance cluster ministers.
A number of committees would sit on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to finalise bills and board appointments.
Concurrently, media communications training for committee chairpersons would be conducted from Tuesday afternoon to Friday midday.
“This is in line with the strategic plan of Parliament, which among others, emphasises capacity building and training for all MPs, including improving public communications by parliamentary committees.
“The DA’s dismissal of this crucial training, which is intended to enhance Parliament’s communications with the people of South Africa, as ‘spin classes’ is both silly and reflective of how little it comprehends the real work of Parliament,” it said.
Earlier on Sunday, DA Deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters said the DA noted with concern Parliament’s decision to not only cancel two of this week’s three National Assembly plenaries, but a third of the scheduled portfolio committee meetings as well.
In previous NAPC meetings, ANC whips “claimed” that this week’s plenary cancellations would allow various portfolio committees the opportunity to catch up on crucial outstanding work, and to compile and complete reports, he said.
“However, according to the recent committee schedule, a number of meetings to deal with urgent business, such as the implementation of the Farlam Commission’s (of Inquiry) recommendations, briefings by National Treasury, and initiatives to avert looming strikes have now at the very last minute been cancelled in favour of a chairpersons’ media and communication workshop.”
Waters said he would request that “this worrying decision” be brought before the Parliamentary Oversight Authority, and that National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete explain “how she thinks that these ‘spin classes’ are more important than the numerous important issues before Parliament’s portfolio committees”.