83% do not know where their local constituency office is

4 Mar 2014 (7 years, 3 months ago)

Our current survey shows that 83% of online visitors to the People’s Assembly did not know where their local constituency office is located. Parliament spent R203 million last year to provide these constituency offices.

The People's Assembly website focuses on MP accountability. SA does not have a constituency system where the people who voted you in, can vote you out if you do not perform. SA has a proportional representation system which allows more opposition MPs to be represented in Parliament (a good thing for democracy) but it also distances representatives from the people as they are not beholden to a specific electorate. To alleviate this, MPs are assigned to constituency offices after elections by their parties and well over 25% of the parliamentary programme is scheduled for "constituency" work. However, what does it mean if 83% do not know where their local constituency office is? Is this a signal for lack of accountability? Does it enable no consequences for representatives who do not perform?

The People's Assembly website gives answers to questions such as: What has my assigned MP commented on over the past 5 years? What's her attendance like? Plus, the Rep Locator allows users to type in their address and find out who their assigned MP is and where their MP's constituency office is. By allowing citizens to know more about this, we can start holding MPs to account.

The Report of the Independent Panel Assessment of Parliament recommends that Parliament “should provide the public with information regarding Constituency Offices, such as: the address and contact details of Constituency Offices, the names and contact details of MP assigned to specific Constituency Offices, and the boundaries of constituency areas”.

Despite policy requiring that parties provide Parliament with information regarding the location of its offices and the members assigned to each, efforts by the People’s Assembly to source this information has proved difficult.



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