Over the past week parliament has been the most entertaining thing on TV bar the Cricket World Cup. Honourable shout out to the Zim boys for their performances and narrow win over the UAE. #BackOurBoys
Back to parliament. It has been a circus. I’ll start with South Africa. We were all anticipating what would happen when JZ would eventually set foot into parliament. The EFF had promised to bombard the president with the question “when will you pay back the money?”
What occurred at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was just what everyone expected and more. The Security Cluster jammed cell phone signal, the EFF were forcefully ejected by the presiding officer. The police were in parliament which prompted the DA to walk out. It was shambolic yet highly entertaining.
But what does this all mean for ordinary South Africans? The drama is great for TV and I am sure South African news channels ratings spiked during the whole affair. My issue though is that it becomes a personality politics affair, something that plagues our continent.
The focus it seems has been placed on individuals. Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, Baleka Mbete, Mmusi Maimane taking lead roles with others, the likes of Thandi Modise, Floyd Shivambu, Andile Mngxitama the supporting acts.
Personality politics is to the detriment of the people. Individuals and not issues end up being discussed and as we can already see the members of parliament spend their time finding subtle and sometimes outright derogatory ways of insulting each other. A particular cockroach comment comes to mind.
I’m sure the ordinary individual like myself knows more about the drama that unfolded in parliament than what was actually said by uJacob in his SONA.
Cross the Limpopo closer to home and ministers absconding from parliament. For up to 3 weeks now ministers have been absent from question time and opposition MPs are frustrated.
On Wednesday MPs in Zimbabwe’s August House vented their frustrations chanting “we want ministers,” and rightly so. I do not know what it is with our elected officials but someone needs to remind them that first, they are not above the law and second, they are accountable to their electorate.
Why are ministers not going to parliament? That is a gross disrespect of the legislature of which the executive is accountable to. Parliamentarians represent their constituents and those are the people. We have a right to know what government is doing and so ministers should be in parliament.
The whole system of checks and balances depends on each branch respecting the other. That being said ministers are parliamentarians first and so they really have no excuse.
I find it also ridiculous that Zanu-PF would schedule a politburo meeting when ministers are supposed to be in parliament. Surely it cannot be that dismissing some of your former buddies from the party is more important that the electorate. There is a gross disrespect of the voters, the systems of government and the offices that these officials hold.
It is time that we all reflect on the systems of government we have and that we work towards respecting them. Entertaining these events maybe but we cannot allow such to continue as it is detrimental to us and to our democracies.