In order to ensure that civil liberties are protected at all times during this lockdown and that there is continuous oversight over the national executive authority and organs of state, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the speaker of the national assembly to request that she establish an ad hoc committee of the National Assembly.
The party went on to cite Rule 253(1)(b) of the Rules of the national assembly which would allow speaker Thandi Modise to so so.
The party further stated that Section 55(2) of the Constitution directs the National Assembly to; (a) to ensure that all executive organs of state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it; and (b) to maintain oversight of- (i) the exercise of national executive authority, including the implementation of legislation; and (ii) any organ of state.
“While the DA has committed its full support to president Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet, we as the official opposition, as well as our fellow opposition parties in the assembly, still have a duty to hold the executive to account,” said interim DA leader John Steenhuisen in a statement.
“Already this week there have been numerous reports of brutality at the hands of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers deployed across South Africa, with more worrying accounts including allegations of soldiers opening fire on residents, and employing unnecessarily authoritarian and zealous violence and language.”
The party has called this behaviour “absolutely unacceptable and deeply worrying” as it shows a government in contempt of the civil liberties afforded to all South Africans in a free and democratic state.
“These are unprecedented times and we need to look at extraordinary measures to ensure that we not only combat Covid-19 and the spread thereof in South Africa, but also have extraordinary measures in place to ensure there is consistent and continual accountability for government.”
The party said Rule 167(g) indicates that a committee may meet in a venue determined by it and proposed that this committee meets via online platforms or videoconferencing facilities to respect the conditions of the lockdown and adhere to the principle of social distancing.
“We need to uphold the rule of law and the constitution at all cost, even in this most unprecedented and unusual of times.”