MPs demand consultation over Covid-19 regulations
Parliamentarians are demanding to be consulted whenever the regulations on Covid-19 are being amended.
This was the word made by MPs to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazama Dlamini Zuma at the virtual meeting of the Cogta portfolio committee on Friday night.
This happened hours after another set of newly-amended regulations signed by Dlamini Zuma were published in the government gazette.
The committee did not hide its displeasure at being left out when the public was asked to comment.
Committee chairperson Faith Muthambi said it was regrettable there was no such opportunity for them in the latest regulations.
"Regrettably Minister, there was no opportunity for us as the committee to be consulted when the country moves to level three and that is a matter that concerns the whole committee, and doesn’t put the committee in a better position to exercise its mandate," Muthambi said.
She also said they felt strongly that they should be consulted as the government did with business, labour and other stakeholders.
"We can't continue to be at the tail end of the process like the ordinary public and on the same hand we are expected to provide informed leadership to our communities," Muthambi said.
"We urge the department and yourself to get Parliament and the committee members on board in preparation for the remaining stages of lockdown. This will reaffirm our rightful place" she added.
Muthambi 's sentiments were echoed by DA MP Haniff Hoosen, who said it was a waste of exercise to approach the committee when consultation was done.
"I don't know what the department is going to tell us differently as there are already regulations. The minister shows deep disregard for this committee," Hoosen said.
He charged that the MPs should have been engaged to gauge their views but Dlamini Zuma saw it fit to engage only labour and business.
"Why did she choose not to get the views of the portfolio committee?" Hoosen asked.
He said it was not the only incident that Dlamini Zuma showed disregard to the committee as she often provided a standard response to written parliamentary questions saying "information is not available" despite previously promising to deal with unanswered questions.
"The minister has a record of doing that in the previous portfolio," Hoosen said.
Dlamini Zuma apologised for the lack of consultation with the committee on the regulations despite the consultations being led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"Next time I will come to ask for your view," Dlamini Zuma said.
"I do respect the portfolio committee and I do not deliberately not answer questions," she said to claim in connection with the written parliamentary questions.
The minister explained that written questions were not necessarily within their scope.
"I do not have information at hand about other spheres. If information depends on other spheres, I have to source it," Dlamini Zuma said, adding that she was asked about specific details on tenders in municipalities.
But, Hoosen would hear none of that saying he has asked about court cases the Cogta was cited as a respondent two weeks ago.
"The standard answer was the information is not available," he said.
Dlamini Zuma said court papers did not come to her other than the state law advisor office.
"I do not get every case as it comes in. Every case is filtered to the Justice (Department)."
She insisted that she also could not provide wrong information in case she was accused of misleading Parliament.
"It is not out of disrespect. I have to check the cases so that when I give information I give information that is in full," Dlamini Zuma said.