The National Assembly. File picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
A study by a civil society group has found that the oversight and accountability mechanism of written questions in Parliament was particularly a tool of the opposition parties.

“Research shows that in all parliaments, opposition parties are more active in asking questions than governing parties - even if governing parties have genuine policy concerns, they can use informal means to obtain information or bring government attention to issues, due to their close relation to the government.

“Opposition parties, on the other hand, have an interest in exposing the policy failures of the government as this draws negative attention to the government,” the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) said.

The PMG said written questions allowed parliamentarians to ask a minister about the activities, spending, policy and legislation implementation of a department to keep the executive accountable.

PMG said a total of 18 823 written questions were posed to the executive over the last term of Parliament.

It said 74.5% of the questions were asked by the DA alone, followed by 14.6% by the EFF.

The DA’s Mike Waters was named the MP who asked the most questions in the previous term of Parliament, with about 250 questions on average a year.

The PMG said the Police Ministry was asked the most questions, a total of 1151.

“An analysis of the data indicates that the response rate is high. The quality of the replies needs a survey of the MPs who asked the questions. This would make an interesting study, as the quality of the replies has been described as inadequate,” PMG said.

It said 3.7% of questions were asked by Cope.

“Calculations show that Cope asked on average 236 questions per member over the fifth Parliament, followed by the Freedom Front Plus.

“Each of its four members asked 158 questions on average over the fifth Parliament.” 

Political Bureau