The report, titled “MPs dragging their feet: Outa’s 2021 Report on Parliamentary Oversight in South Africa”, is an assessment of how well MPs did their job defending democracy in 2021.
THE ORGANISATION Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has found that Parliament failed to hold the executive to account and that its failures allowed state capture and corruption to continue unabated.
Outa released its annual parliamentary oversight report, looking at 2021.
It noted that parliamentarians have been metaphorically burning down the institution of Parliament for years, threatening South Africa’s democracy.
The report, titled “MPs dragging their feet: Outa’s 2021 Report on Parliamentary Oversight in South Africa”, is an assessment of how well members of Parliament (MPs) did their job defending democracy in 2021.
It was compiled by Outa’s parliamentary and energy adviser, Liz McDaid.
“Outa believes that Parliament is a burnt-out shell in more ways than just physically,” said McDaid.
McDaid said Parliament’s failures allowed state capture and corruption to become entrenched and that public participation in some parliamentary committees was “woefully inadequate”.
This is the third annual report in Outa’s series of reports on oversight of Parliament.
An additional report was submitted to the state capture commission in November 2020, detailing how Parliament repeatedly failed to take action to stop state capture.
“Each of our previous reports was strongly critical of the failure by parliamentarians to hold the executive to account. Despite government’s claimed opposition to the erosion of state institutions due to state capture, this report finds no significant improvement in accountability by Parliament,” said McDaid.
The latest report found there was significant space for Parliament to improve to protect democracy.
“The improvement we are looking for is a responsive Parliament, that holds the executive accountable, whose operations take place in a transparent manner and which shows a welcoming and proactive stance towards public participation.
“It is difficult to escape from the perception that Parliament has been hollowed out and filled with unethical people and, until that is addressed, we cannot expect any real accountability,” the report says.
The report findings include that Parliament failed in its duty of constitutional oversight, some MPs failed to uphold their constitutional oath of office and the public participation processes were still inadequate.
It further found that some MPs were not heard by Parliament, there was no sign of the party constituency offices funded by Parliament, and there was a strong need for structural reform.
“We want a Parliament that holds the executive to account and welcomes public participation,” said McDaid.
Another example of failed public participation, the report noted, was the annual Budget.
It said that year after year, Parliament held public hearings for input on the Budget, but every year the Budget was passed unchanged with no reference to that input.
“A crucial part of Parliament’s job is to exercise oversight over the executive. It has failed in this, allowing state capture and corruption to become entrenched, and continues to fail, including by protecting and promoting those deeply implicated in wrongdoing.
“This report looks at how Parliament is failing and the implications of that failure,” the report says.
– Political Bureau