REPORT: PARLIAMENT IS STILL A FAILED INSTITUTION
OUTA’s comprehensive fourth annual report on parliamentary oversight, compiled by OUTA’s Parliamentary Engagement Office, found once again that Parliament is a failed institution. The report, titled Kicking the can down the road, covers the period July 2021 to June 2022. Each of our previous reports was strongly critical of the failure by Members of Parliament (MPs) to hold the Executive – the ministers in Cabinet and the President – to account.
Each of our previous reports was strongly critical of the failure by Members of Parliament (MPs) to hold the Executive – the ministers in Cabinet and the President – 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.
This year, we want to warn that if our democracy is to survive, we need ethical, hard-working parliamentarians, who stand up against corruption and work in the public interest. We do not have enough of them. We also encourage the public to be more active, to demand engagement with Parliament and to demand that their voices are heard. We need active citizens to defend our democracy.
Our report focusses on the National Assembly side of Parliament, and the portfolio committees operated by our MPs which are responsible for oversight of the Executive and government. We assessed the work of 10 of these committees. There were spots of good work but too many disappointments. We found a Parliament mired in the aftermath of state capture, unable or unwilling to hold the Executive to account, routinely approving budgets despite flagrant financial mismanagement, continuing to regard public participation as a tick-box exercise, and resisting the responsibility of implementing electoral reform to serve party interests.
We expect more of our parliamentarians, who promise in their oath of office to “obey, respect and uphold the Constitution and all other law of the Republic”, and whose job is set down in the Constitution as including “scrutinising and overseeing executive action”.
Our report includes recommendations for strengthening oversight by Parliament of the Executive and government, and we see the report as part of strengthening our parliamentary democracy and to fulfil the rights enshrined in the Constitution. OUTA looks forward to engaging further with Parliament, as civil society can urge and demand accountability from our government only through constructive engagement.
WATCH a short OUTA video on How should Parliament work? is here
READ OUTA’s full report on Parliament’s failure here