Chairperson and hon members, three members have spoken to the ability of Parliament to process legislation and to make laws. One of the things that we said we want to look at
is to see whether the structure of Parliament, as is - the support systems - actually enable us to do that.
That is why we are saying that the possibility of us tinkering with the structure of Parliament is there. The reason we have been engaging with the President and the Treasury is to begin to address the issues line by line on the needs of Parliament. That is why we have said that we want the next budget of Parliament to be a budget that we, as politicians, will have said we have driven because it talks to the needs of public representatives.
We want to say that whatever else comes, as a cost of administration, is a cost towards ensuring that the public representative is capacitated to do their work. We also want to say that electronic monitors of warm bodies in committees is precisely because we want to ensure that no member gets paid for staying at their house.
Therefore, that would mean that your salaries, ho members, will be docked because you are not at work when you are supposed to
be at work. I hope when we start going there members will not be fighting with us.
We also want to say that we welcome the discussion, and I want to say ...
My deur is oop. [I have an open-door policy.]
We can continue to speak with the Chief Whips and all Members of Parliament - my door is open.
One of those reasons is that we need to begin to resolve issues which do not need us to bring this House into disrepute. We need to be able, as leaders of parties and as chief whips, to talk about those things that we can address together; is behaviour, absenteeism and the decorum of this House. We need to begin there so that all of us understand that we do have rules and laws; the rules, the laws, the conventions, the protocols that govern the decorum and the running of Parliament.
Hon members, until all of us have gone to the Rules Committee and have changed the Rules, we shall apply the rules and the law. [Applause.] We shall apply the rules and the law. What we shall do is that every member, irrespective of what party they come from, will be given the protection of the Chair - all of us. But we will make sure that every protection to the member goes with the observation of the rules and the law, irrespective of which party you come from. We will not be taking corners there.
I want to say that there are a number of things that we will also be looking at. We are aware that Parliament now has more young members and therefore certain support systems must be put in place. We are looking at that. When I make the example, hon Ndlozi don't be surprised, when some of us came here, Lechesa and I, we were young parents. Believe you me. There were facilities here, hon Deputy Speaker. There were facilities here which we want to ensure that are returned so that members who have children and other family responsibilities are not bogged down or absent from work because those facilities no longer exist. [Applause.]
We also heard that we need to relook at the clinic. It is, in fact, the ANC that has criticised the conditions of the clinic, library, and ablution facilities around here more than you have done, hon Singh. We will look at that but the discussions we started last year between the former Speaker, myself and Public Works were to an extent to which Parliament must be responsible for maintaining its own facilities. That is why I, earlier on, said who knows what and where these precincts of Parliament are? Because if we do know, we want to take charge of those precincts. We want, as Parliament, to be in direct control of the facilities which directly affect the members.
Therefore, until there is clarity whether the Parliament moves or doesn't move, these facilities which are here in Cape Town must serve the members properly. We are also aware that the parliamentary villages do need our attention and we will be trying to come back to the House and suggest that, in past the parliamentary villages had, amongst us here, members who were mayors of these facilities.
Maybe we should return to that system because then the mayors of these parliamentary facilities were held responsible and they cracked the whip to ensure that those facilities were properly serviced.
I want to say that I do agree; when I said that our language policy must be implemented, I wanted to speak not only to the interpretations but all our languages. I am told by Parliament that it is a matter of cost that, at all times, you can't have the requisite number of interpreters and translators. But I also want to say that in fact, we also fail ourselves and our constituencies because of what I am doing now - I am not speaking in Setswana. Therefore, we must take the lead and force Parliament to enforce the resources to be able to deliver to the constituencies.
Hon members, hon Julius says that we need to understand our duties and we need to make the House function properly. I agree and we must do that. He also says that we must scrap the loss of office gratuity. Now, Parliament is not really in control of this particular thing. The loss of office gratuity is
promulgated in terms of the commission for the remuneration of public office bearers which was gazetted in 2008. This commission is independent and we do not influence it. It comes regularly to assess us, we make our interventions there and they make the decisions.
Parliament must therefore say to us that we now must actively go and say, "look at a possibility of a cut-off or a do away of the gratuity. [Interjections.] No, I'm not saying we are doing that but we must be empowered as the executive authority if Parliament so says. That is not my decision to make.
We also want to say that the issue of the oversight over the Presidency, hon Mulder, I thought we had referred this matter to the committees, the political parties and the Chief Whips to come back to us on it so that you do not put me on the spot and I say something that will then be rejected by the people we referred the matter to. So, I will wait.
There was also a question of how much is this Parliament if it is going at all. We do not know how much the new Parliament will
cost because we do not know what the sentiments of South Africans are going to say about whether or not Parliament must move.
When that decision is taken, it will be informed by the economics but also by the sentiments of the public. And when we do, then we will get into where and how much and that will have to be a very open process which all members and the public can see. For now, I cannot say that I do know.
I want to say that, hon Singh, your squash club and all the other teams or where South Africa is represented my Members of Parliament, must be given attention and all the requirements of us when we go abroad in whatever capacity, whether it is debates, must be attended to. That is why one of the tinkering we want to do is to look at whether we are creating expertise even on international issues.
I asked around last week whether we have a researcher dedicated, for instance, to the Pan-African Parliament, PAP, West Africa, and I do not have. I have a number of researchers who are all
generalists. That is why we are saying that we want to renegotiate the terms even with the EU fund so that not only do we start creating pockets of excellence and expertise amongst the members themselves, but amongst the support to members.
Therefore, you need to create that capacity within your research. When you need to be looking at conflict you have a researcher who can come to you just like that and give you the goods in any of the Houses.
We want to say that we are off to a start, members. I hope that we will carry all of us together. We will negotiate where we need to negotiate. I am a former Chairperson who actually enjoys working with everybody in my committee because we would sit and talk across parties because that portfolio that you are overseeing is not about your party but about services out there to all our people.
So, if we dialogue and disagree responsibly, we will be able to lead South Africa and Parliament will not be what to hon Madisha referred to as a "broken parliament". Parliament cannot be
broken and cannot be accused of weakness, hon members, because you stood here alone, took your oath, you have a responsibility as an individual and as a member of your party to do that which the people who voted for us brought us here to do. [Applause.]
So, we must not blame one another when we are unable to ask the right questions to the executive. We must not blame our parties because we are too scared to confront issues which are in the interest of our people. We must not be expected, as the presiding officers, not to hear.
Unfortunately, one member raised the issue about the quality of responses from the executive. It would be very difficult when we preside to tell you whether there is accuracy in the response because we are not in the different portfolios. We might pick up when the response is not adequate if we know the environment and portfolio but we cannot assure you and say that the answer is not adequate. We would not know.
What we would want is to see members of the executive in the House responding to questions of members. If they are not ready,
they tell the House that they are not ready and that they need time and when we have given them that time, they come back and give us the best they can on what is there and what is not there.
The commitments I spoke to, hon members, is that if you are addressing a group of people in Vryburg and you promise something and you do not deliver, and that community rise to Parliament, I am duty bound to ask you why you made that comment when you knew you were not going to follow-up. That is all we want to see because we will be doing our work from these benches to these front benches expecting the executive to respond, not to us but to the people out there. I thank you. [Applause.]