The Coronavirus outbreak is having a significant and unprecedented effect across the globe. Countries have had to resort to extraordinary measures to combat this grave public health emergency.
South Africa is on lockdown, with massive restrictions in place. According to the President, this action is required “to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions”.
Parliament’s role is reduced during this period as National Disaster decision-making is undertaken by the National Executive. Thus far, the Legislature has issued several statements supporting the Government’s interventions and does not want to interfere while it implements the extraordinary measures.
Yet, in a time of deep crisis and uncertainty, the role of Parliament is more vital than ever. In a time when fundamental decisions about our safety and economy are being made, we need more parliamentary action.
The Regulations give enormous (and necessary) powers to the Executive but parliamentary supervision is essential to maintain a check on this. During the lockdown, there are ongoing complaints about the economic impact, heavy-handed approach of law enforcement authorities, price gouging, job losses, state of the health system, privacy concerns and the flouting of regulations.
The role of municipalities – which play a crucial role in implementing the lockdown and in mitigating its impact on access to basic services, food security and the local economy – is another recurring concern.
As a result, citizens have flooded hotlines, social media ombudsman offices and the police to register their discontent. There are also a number of COVID-related litigation actions due to human rights abuses.
Some have asked what Parliament’s role should be in a state of national disaster and suggested various recommendations including virtual meetings.
Parliament rejected the DA’s call to set up an adhoc oversight committee, stating that its responsibility to conduct oversight is not limited to committee meetings. The statement indicates that committee observations, including their interventions, will be kept on record and followed up where appropriate and that individual MPs will be carrying out constituency work in communities and hold the Executive accountable for implementing measures designed to overcome the state of disaster.
So what can you do?
You can provide parliamentary committees with on the ground feedback and expert information. Write to the relevant committee about the regulations and their implementation as well as any personal challenges you experienced. Beyond this, you can advise what measure would help citizens and the economy to recover, where to appropriate funding, what legislative fixes are needed and how we can be better prepared for future disasters.
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Muthambi l Committee Secretary: Ms Shereen Cassiem l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Dhlomo l Committee Secretary: Ms Vuyokazi Majalamba l Email: email@example.com
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Siwela l Committee Secretary: Mr King Kunene l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Gungubele l Committee Secretary: Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo l Email: email@example.com
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Joemat-Pettersson l Committee Secretaries: Ms Babalwa Mbengo l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Ms Zoleka Kula l Email: email@example.com
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Xaba l Committee Secretary: Mr Bryan Mantyi l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Zwane l Committee Secretary: Ms Valerie Carelse l Email: email@example.com
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Dunjwa l Committee Secretary: Ms Zolani Sakasa l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Nkosi l Committee Secretary: Mr Andre Hermans l Email: email@example.com or
Mr Tenda Madima l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Ndaba l Committee Secretary: Ms Neliswa Nobatana l Email: email@example.com
Address letter to the Chairperson: Honourable Magwanishe l Committee Secretary: Siyabamkela Mthonjeni l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you click the Committee link above, you will find the Committee Membership and can copy your letter to individual committee members also
You can also contact individual MPs via this Write to Tool. Interventions made by individual Members is one form of oversight as it empowers Members to interact directly with departments and other organs of state at national, provincial and local government level. MPs have a duty to alert Parliament to a concern identified during oversight interventions.
Parliamentary Monitoring Group
Contact me on email@example.com
Tel 021 465 8885