Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa vehemently insists that MPs who ignore their duty to attend sittings of parliament will be dealt with.
During oral replies to parliamentary questions posed by political parties in the National Assembly (NA) yesterday, Ramaphosa said the matter was of “great concern” and was being taken up at Cabinet level.
This is after opposition parties repeatedly stated that ministers, who are also sworn in as members of parliament, did not arrive to answer to the legislative oversight body and that they shirked their legally binding commitment to answer written replies posed by MPs.
During the Women’s Day debate earlier this week, which was a joint sitting of the NA and the National Council of Provinces, the ANC benches were noticeably empty.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane singled out Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as a serial offender. Even when she was present, she avoided questions, he claimed. “I think it’s time to take action,” Maimane said, adding that consideration had to be given to punitive action, such as fines.
Ramaphosa said he didn’t think that was necessary. However, he said he had arrived in the House to be met by empty ANC benches.
“This is a good point and I will take it up,” he said. “It’s a matter of great concern.
“Watch this space. I am absolutely certain there is going to be greater attendance,” he said.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said in March that he would also tackle the issue of absent ANC MPs so that the passing of legislation was not held up, News24 reported at the time.