The virtual parliament isn’t a shambles, albeit that there are some glitches, the governing party said as it defended the legislature against the DA’s criticism.
During Thursday’s meeting of the National Assembly Planning Committee, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the virtual committee meetings have been “rather shambolic in nature”.
She said the departments took up the majority of the time and members of the executive weren’t properly questioned.
She added that if something drastic wasn’t done, parliament would be constitutionally delinquent, because it was not fulfilling its oversight duty.
Mazzone said she wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise in this regard. The ANC, however, disagreed.
“I do differ from you,” house chairperson Cedric Frolick responded. He said the meetings have “certainly not been shambolic” and “most are progressing well”, although he conceded that there were some problems.
“In certain instances, there is room for improvement,” Frolick said.
He added that he or his team kept an eye on every meeting.
ACDP MP Steve Swart said a source of frustration was that departments presented their budgets to the committees, but those budgets will change due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The process, however, has to be completed before the budget can be amended.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina also responded to Mazzone: “Let’s not paint all committees with the same brush, saying they all failed.”
She said there were “glitches here and there” and pointed out that members were not trained on how to conduct virtual meetings.
“You can’t say parliament has been in shambles,” she said.
The committee will receive a report on an incident that occurred at its meeting last week, where pornography and racial and sexual insults towards Modise interrupted the meeting.
The committee is also still grappling with the logistics of having sittings to deal with departmental budgets, Bills before the house and question sessions to the executive while social distancing is imperative.