In a true spirit of public accountability and bringing life to the concept of “a people’s Parliament”, the national legislature yesterday hosted stakeholders from different sectors for a progress report on the performance of the 5th democratic Parliament.
The Presiding Officers of Parliament (National Assembly Speaker, MsBalekaMbete, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, MsThandiModise) met with members of the community, civil society organisations, institutions supporting democracy, international diplomats and the media, for a progress report on the performance of the national legislature.
As the 5th democratic Parliament wraps up its business and prepares a legacy report to hand over to the next generation of Parliamentarians who will run the institution after the next general elections, MsMbete believes interacting with the public and other relevant stakeholders was important for South Africa’s maturing democracy and it also contributes to strengthening public accountability by Parliament.
Addressing just fewer than 300 guests at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the Speaker said the public must always be updated about the work of Parliament and the performance of their elected representatives.
She also said the positive response by the attendees of the session showed an element of “active citizenry” which she emphasised was important for South Africa’s democracy to continue maturing.
Focusing much of her speech on Parliament’s participation in global platforms, she also thanked the world for making 2018 “a special year” for South Africa by honouring the founding President of a democratic South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela.
“2018 is a special year for us as Parliament and South Africa. Special things have happened for which we are very thankful – we have been honoured through the United Nations (UN) when a statue of our founding President was unveiled at the UN headquarters in New York – no country has received a better honour and we applaud the world for recognising the value of Mandela’s contribution in promoting world peace and democracy,” she said.
The Speaker said the purpose of the briefing was to share assessment and report back on the work they have done as the 5thdemocratic Parliament, which includes participating in global platforms.
“As the 5th Parliament, we remain acutely aware that the world’s problems are interconnected – that economic crises, for instance, to which countries and their citizens are exposed, often emanate from far beyond their borders,” she said.
She added that Parliament’s engagement in international relations was informed by South Africa’s foreign policy and parliamentary diplomacy imperatives, saying this was an expression of the democratic values of our country, entrenched in our Constitution.
Parliament has been affiliated to the IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) since South Africa became a democracy in 1994. The IPU provides a platform to advance South Africa’s position on topical global issues. It also provides a platform to advance accelerating socio-economic development in Africa.
According to MsMbete, the active participation of Parliament in global platform must not just end in documented agreements that don’t contribute to changing the lives of the poor, especially in developing countries.
“This participation in these platforms should be about finding ways on making sure that the commitments are not just pen on paper, but become programmes that better the lives of the people of our countries” she explained, citing the example of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – saying it was the responsibility of parliaments of the world to make sure that the goals were implemented by governments to change the lives of the people.
This term of Parliament also saw the launch of the South African branch of the Global TB Caucus, a commitment by Members of Parliament across the world to fight the spread of TB.
Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa