The South African MPs and Support Staff at the Courtesy Call on the Vice-Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Sibalatani
|Story by Pamela Mate
The visiting delegation from South Africa comprising Provincial MPs from Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal and their support staff paid a courtesy call on the Vice-Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Bernard Sibalatani and on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi, with the Director in the Office of the Speaker, Mr. Gerson Tjihenuna standing in for the Speaker who was away on official duty.
At the courtesy call meeting, Hon. Sibalatani applauded the good relations Namibia and South Africa currently enjoy and urged that it be strengthened further. Mr. Tjihenuna from the Office of the Speaker highlighted the parliamentary landscape in the country, touching on the day-to-day practices of the National Assembly and the respective MPs. Tjihenuna identified the lack of impact assessment on laws once they have been passed as a challenge as this does not help determine how these laws have influenced the lives of ordinary people.
Next, the South African MPs and support staff met with The National Assembly Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Auditor General and his support staff. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Public Accounts scrutinizes the Auditor General’s reports tabled in Parliament amongst other functions.
Topping the discussions of the day was the enforcement mechanisms in the oversight function of Parliament and if a lack of such mechanisms may limit impact. The South African delegation shared that they have in place Performance Evaluation and Budget Analysis that enables them to better carry out the oversight function. They further informed that once a report is before the house, MPs and various committees can then track the progress of such a report better as this enhances accountability.
Head of the Kwazulu-Natal delegation, Hon. Maggie Govendet underscored why it is important for Standing Committees to work together, stating that although the members may have different political affiliations, it is important that they put their party hats aside and adopt resolutions unanimously in order to make the oversight role most effective. To this end, the meeting touched on Consequence Management in accountability and the type of action for those found to be contravening accountability in public office. A Gauteng Provincial MP also added that the National Council needs a real mandate to be effective, adding that in S.A, the National Assembly may screech to a halt if what is said from the Provinces is not considered and implemented. This was in reference to the Constitutional Provision that accords the National Assembly the right to omit recommendations and submissions of the National Council from final legislature if they so wish. Furthermore, the parties agreed that Parliament in both countries have very limited power to influence the budget, something that may need further consideration.
Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Kavekotora shared that the Public Accounts Committee is assisted by only three clerks, and that there is a need for Researchers. Another challenge he highlighted was the lack of enforceability of the Committee on outcomes derived from their reports.
Members of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly,chaired by Hon. Mike Kavekotora during the Meeting with theKwazulu-Natal MPs from South Africa
To this, the MPs from Kwazulu-Natal said that they have been able to do better in this regard as they are in collaboration with other Provincial Legislature Standing Committees and many other government agencies, enabling them to track progress and get the desired outcomes. The Auditor General, Mr. Junias Kandjeke said that he works closely with all political parties to ensure that the public knows how their money is spent in a transparent and accountable manner.