‘OUR’ MPs

I’m disappointed in our members of Parliament (MPs). Most of them make no effort at all to understand the more complex, often technical Bills they process. Even the ANC’s Yunus Carrim has admitted MPs generally don’t read the documents they receive. If you don’t believe me, listen to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group recording of a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance he chaired on 5 February. His colleague, Joan Fubbs, regularly reminds members of her committee to ‘apply their minds’.

I spend hours unpacking boring government documents and trying to figure out what they’re trying to say. That’s part of my job. Our MPs’ job is to look after the interests of ordinary South Africans by passing laws they believe will take the country to a higher level of development. They’re paid well to do it. Yet all they seem to care about is the policy underpinning new legislation before them. Anything goes if party policy isn’t compromised. But the devil is very much in the detail – to which, sadly, they pay scant attention. It’s left to Parliament’s legal advisers to do the real work, but what do they know about economics and the way business works? And anyway, he who pays the fiddler tends to call the shots …

If I were President, I’d make sure that only members of my political party with the education to understand the issues and the commitment to take their work seriously are deployed to Parliament. It does nothing for the country to have MPs who make no input, bunk meetings and are more interested in filling their faces and monitoring their smart ‘phones than following discussions. Mind you, the breakfast, tea and luncheon snacks served at meetings are rather yummy …

Although it’s nearly four years old, this Mail&Guardian article says it all. And things have actually got worse. Perhaps the new bunch of post-2019-election MPs will be better? I shall resist holding my breath. Judging from what I’ve seen during nearly ten years of reporting on Parliament, nothing will change. Most MPs are one collective …

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