Parliament committee meetings must be open and accessible

All the parliament committee meetings must be conducted in an open and accessible manner and should be broadcast for the public on a platform such as YouTube and national television stations in order to ensure accessibility by all members of the public.

This were some of the reflections from Putting the People in People’s Parliament project Dialogue which took place in Cape Town on 25 June 2019. A small group of PSAM monitors based in the Eastern Cape joined the dialogue via Skype. The main purpose of this dialogue which focused on National Parliament was to reflect on some of the main issues that were identified in the 5th Parliament. It also focused on how these have directly and indirectly contributed to the governance and transparency challenges faced by the institution and how to improve the performance of the 6th Parliament. 

Vivienne Mentor-Lalu from the Women and Democracy Initiative said, ‘Despite participants airing their discontent and disillusion regarding failures within Parliament and the provincial legislatures, they still joined because they believe in the ethos of representative and participatory democracy.  We are of the belief that the 6th Parliament can achieve an accountable and transparent People’s Parliament, by learning from its predecessors mistakes and applying its mind to its constituencies demands ’. 

The collective at this dialogue suggested that petitions by members of the public should be processed more efficiently, taken seriously by MPS and should be respected. They also suggested that the time frames for public participation should be extended and adhered to.  There should be a review of the legislation that governs Parliament. The system of political constituency offices must be performance monitored to ensure that it is functioning well and MP’s must engage with members of the community more robustly and consider their inputs and the support staff which includes researchers, committee secretaries and legal advisers, should be able to perform the duties without political interference. 

Furthermore, inputs were made on how CSOs and members of the public can collaborate with the 6th Parliament. Demands and recommendations by the group will be sent in a letter to the Speaker and other parliamentary stakeholders.   

The Parliament Watch report and scorecard can be found here: https://dullahomarinstitute.org.za/women-and-democracy/parliament-watch/reports

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