Address by Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP in the National Assembly Budget Vote 2: Parliament

Madam Speaker, Deputy President and Honourable Members,

Parliament derives its power directly from the people. We are therefore all here to implement the will of the people. Once elected, our people therefore expect us to rise above ideological cleavages and narrow partisan interests to build a better South Africa for all, both Black and White.

Deputy Speaker,

Speaking time is essential for pluralist and representative debates that communicate the will of the people of South Africa and the constituencies the various political parties in this House represent.

We are concerned that the current proportional speaking formula in Parliament does not provide us, the so-called smaller opposition parties or other parties as we prefer to call ourselves, enough opportunity to clearly articulate the will of our people and constituencies.

Applying the crude principle of proportionality on speaking times does not bode well for both the reputation and image of this august Institution. For example, at times speakers’ times expire before the speakers had managed to put their points across – thus leaving the public questioning the purpose and quality of contribution.

It is therefore important for Parliament to look into ways in which speaking times allow all parties to add maximum value to what are often complex parliamentary debates.

We are aware that political parties have since the beginning of this term worked together to improve the situation and we appreciate the efforts.

However, we believe there is still more room for improvement. Our view is that the minimum speaking time for parliamentary debates should be five minutes.

Deputy Speaker,

In the last term, there were instances, where people complained about the lack of proper consultation on Bills before this House. There were also a number of cases, where Bills were withdrawn to allow for further consultation. The Info Bill was example where the public consultation process was not done properly.

There have also been cases, where Bills were passed by this House only to be declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.

We have to work hard to improve the quality of the legislation we pass.

We also have a duty to ensure that the public is central to the lawmaking process of Parliament. Our laws should be based on and informed by the will of the people. Put differently, the People Must Govern!

Deputy Speaker,

We commend support systems that Parliament has been put in place, such as the Budget Office, to shore up the work of individual Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Committees. This will go a long way towards improving the effectiveness of MPs and Parliament in their oversight role and in holding Government accountable for its programmes.

The UDM supports Budget Vote 2.

Thank you.