Impressions of Parliament

How well is the People’s Parliament living up to this name? Community members who monitor parliament as part of the Parliament Watch collective give their impressions of various portfolio committee meetings and how MPs are exercising their oversight duty. By making Parliament everyone’s business, public agency, transparency, and access to information – all important building blocks of democracy – is promoted. Parliament Watch monitors affiliated to the Social Justice Coalition Lunga Mtoto, Nosipho Zembe and Yonela Maweza attended the Portfolio Committee on Police on Tuesday, 14 November 2017. This is their impressions

AGENDA:

Report back from SAPS KZN management on the issues raised during the KZN oversight visit.

Report back from SAPS Western Cape management on the status of investigations with regard to Mitchell’s Plain and Bellville South missing firearms;

DPCI status briefing on 2 specialised (Firearms and Narcotics) units;

Briefing by the DPCI on the high-profile cases of the illegal mining and illicit financial flow.

TIME: Committee started on time at 9:00 AM.

MP ATTENDANCE: Most MPs /committee members present

Were MPs’ questions and answers relevant?

MPs had a lot of questions especially about the challenges with crime intelligence and issues related to the taxi violence in provinces like KwaZulu-Natal. They (SAPS) is still looking into strategies to tackle this so they couldn’t answer all the questions. They were not prepared. They didn’t give appropriate answers. SAPS told MPs they have a plan for the festive season, but they didn’t say what. They also don’t give timeframes for when they will do what.

We did get value out of information on allegations of corruption in SAPS management but they (SAPS) also didn’t answer that properly. Their explanation on how crime intelligence work was valuable. All of us have questions about why criminals get caught but don’t stay in jail. So, they explained their mandates. SAPS investigate and arrest criminals but once in court, it is up to the prosecution. They say they are not the ones that should keep them (criminals) in jail. So, it is not them failing, it’s the prosecution.

There wasn’t really anything that we could take back to members of our community that will make a difference. There were many questions about the SAPS management (allegations of corruption), but that is about posts, nothing that makes a difference in communities now. We can’t really take anything on the crime intelligence presentation back to our communities because they were just fighting about the failures.

Was the Committee Chair fair in allowing questions?

Yes, but the issue was time. They had to postpone questions for the next meeting. There were a lot of questions on crime intelligence and also firearms (amnesty) but they had to leave it until next time.

 

How approachable were MPs? Did you feel free to raise issues with them during the break?

We had questions that we wanted answers to – things that are there in our community but we didn’t raise it with them. There wasn’t time and we don’t know if it is just us (and not the MPs).

 

Overall Rating of Committee meeting:  4 out of 10

*This is a paraphrased version of monitors’ accounts that will later be consolidated into a Parliament Watch report with more context.  

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