Speech delivered by Hon.Jabulani Lucas Mahlangu, ANCMP in the debate on whether Parliament is doing enough oversight over the executive held in the National Assembly, Cape Town

15 November 2016

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members

In his address to the 3rd World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, the former Speaker of this august house, Honourable Max Vuyisile Sisulu said, "the time for paying lip service to the need for global democratic accountability is past. Parliaments can no longer be mere chambers of debate and time worn speeches without bringing about change. We cannot call for this change from the sidelines, but must take up the challenge and become activists for change within our parliaments. We do this not for ourselves, but for the people we serve and to whom we, as their freely elected representatives, owe a world where human dignity and human security are paramount," close quote.

The majority of South Africans firmly believe that the African National Congress, Africa's oldest liberation movement has transformed colonial institutions such as this Parliament to become democratic and people centred and that it remains committed to faster pace, more action as well as better implementation of national goals identified in the National Development Plan.

It is in this context that the historically marginalised, patriotic and politically conscious are able to interpret the right-wing agenda that seeks to displace the development agenda from the national discourse and erode public confidence in our democratic institutions.

Grinding poverty, youth unemployment and inequality remain enemies of our people that the radical socio-economic transformation programme championed by the ANC must be accelerated to defeat them.

The resurgence of racism, racial intolerance and hatred that has for decades robbed our people of their dignity as well as human rights undermines unity, reconciliation, nation-building, social cohesion and the values enshrined in our constitution.

The guiding principles of the progressive constitution that we adopted on the 8 May 1996 which were first articulated in the ANC's African Claims document of 1943, the Non-European Unity Movements 10point program of 1943, and the 1955 Congress Alliance Freedom Charter are not understood by reactionaries who opposed us when we tabled it for adoption and who conveniently claim it today to advance their narrow interests and to preserve the privileges of their puppet masters.

These staff riders of the democracy that we fought hard for and who today wish to appropriate it to themselves and project themselves as defenders of the constitution and section 9 institutions that they do not support unless they derive personal benefit and political mileage from their work must be reminded that Parliament is not a platform for cheap politicking, populism, empty rhetoric and anarchy but an arbiter for good governance and public accountability.

Honourable Speaker/Deputy Speaker, the executive is not solely being held accountable in the chambers of this august house and only in the glare of cameras but in portfolio committees which most members of opposition parties do not attend to scrutinise reports and engage meaningfully and constructively with government's programme of action.

Consistent and robust engagements with members of the executive, government departments to exercise oversight over State Owned Enterprises are necessary to hold the executive accountable.

The tendency to play to the gallery and reduce Parliament to mudslinging comedy of insults is increasingly eroding public confidence in a critical institution that is one of the tenets of our democracy.

The principle of separation of powers for the legislature, executive and judiciary including the independence of the prosecuting authority as well as the establishment of Section 9 Institutions attest to the foresight that the ANC as the leader of society had to safeguard our freedom and democracy.

This disorganised and ideologically bankrupt opposition that seeks to hold this institution of people's power to ransom has only succeeded in undermining due processes by prematurely calling for resignations, dissolution of public institutions and bodies at the slightest opportunity in a desperate attempt to create a crisis of legitimacy, political and economic instability.

We know too well that the Desperate Alliance(DA) and its newly found anarchy allies who are destroying our higher education institutions and the decorum of the People's Assembly do not support anyone of us.

They are simply hypocrites who are opportunistically engaged in an orchestrated programme to sow divisions in order to weaken the ANC ahead of the 2019 General elections.

Though the DA-EFF coalition has hijacked our struggle songs, invokes the names of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Solomon Mahlangu and countless other heroes and heroines of our struggle for liberation, we know them for who they are.

We know that Maimane like Esau has sold his inheritance for a bowl of soup from the bastion of racism and that Malema is a bitter anarchist and a peacetime hero who has no regard for the rule of law, and nation-building.

As we have seen in the case of Eskom, they wish to create a leadership crisis that will destabilise the power utility's expansion and delivery programme by calling for the dissolution of the Eskom board even before the Judicial Commission starts with its in-depth investigation into allegations of State Capture.

The support of the business sector and investors who still believe in South Africa as an attractive investment destination and a politically stable country gives us confidence that efforts to avert a credit downgrade that will hurt the poor more will deliver on their objective even without the support of counterrevolutionary forces and anarchists that are active campaigners of economic sabotage for a regime change.

We will not allow this institution of our people to be reduced to a circus, dictated upon an agenda of despair by spoilers nor succumb to crowding out of growth of an inclusive economy including building capacities and enhancing of the state and leaders in society to work together to solve complex issues such as underdevelopment, youth development, accelerated infrastructure development, job creation, land restitution and rural development.

In conclusion, the preamble to our constitutions says, We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to

  • Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
  • Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
  • Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
  • Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

We are committed to upholding the constitution and holding the executive accountable for implementation of the National Development Plan and programmes to better the lives of our people.