The Democratic Alliance raise their concerns about the National Command Council coordinating the country’s response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, which had rendered Parliament obsolete with no apparent oversight on its interventions.
DA Leader John Steenhuisen said the party wrote to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Lechesa Tsenoli to ask that an ad hoc committee be set up to ensure there would be parliamentary oversight.
However, he was turned down, with Tsenoli calling the request “so broad and of such a nature that it would not be feasible to expect a single ad hoc committee to perform”.
Steenhuisen believed the National Command Council was in the unique position of rolling out programmes that were out of the ordinary and, as such, cannot effectively be held to account by Parliament’s existing committees.
“In its oversight role, Parliament is supposed to mirror government in order to exercise oversight comprehensively.
“Because the structure of government has adapted to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, so must Parliament adapt its oversight capacity to oversee it. This is precisely why I have called for the establishment of an ad hoc committee,” DA’s leader said.
Parliament had been posting responses on its website to various developments since the start of the lockdown, such as a call for policing to be done within the confines of the law and to welcome the launch of mobile Covid-19 testing units.
Steenhuisen said the DA “shadow cabinet” will be writing to their respective committee chairpersons requesting for committees to be urgently convened via video conference during the lockdown period.
“Considering the numerous acts of police brutality, and the rising number of deaths allegedly at the hands of police officers during the lockdown, oversight over the executive has never been more crucial in our country,” Steenhuisen said.
Parliament is closed “until further notice” for the lockdown.