The Speaker of Parliament has appointed former President Kgalema Motlanthe to chair an advisory panel that will look at law making since 1994 in order to assess how these laws have impacted on reversing poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Congress of the People sees this panel as nothing else but an extension of the ANC’s local government election campaign. Serious questions must be asked about why this panel is being appointed now. What is the status of this panel? What powers will it have? To whom will it report? Was parliament part of the decision to establish the panel? What is the budget set aside for the panel and who approved that budget?
Our view is that the Speaker does not have the power to establish panels or committees without the approval of parliament. Therefore it is unlawful and illegal and with without any status.
The advisory panel will cost millions but there is no guarantee that its work will be crowned with success. The ruling party should have assembled its component parts, COSATU, SACP and ANCYL, and arrived at an agreement that none of them would trash the panel’s recommendations nor consign it to file 13. Without such an agreement it will be money down the drain.
COPE agrees that it is imperative to eradicate inequality in society and to forge nation building through economic transformation. We believe, after parliament approves the appointment of this panel, for Motlanthe and his team to give very serious consideration to the massive national debt that the government has incurred. Debt service cost is now over R135-billion per annum and that cost has most definitely eroded fiscal space extensively. Without money in the treasury the ruling party can do nothing to attack inequality or to transform the economy. The trumpeted counter cyclical impact of large scale borrowing since 2009 never materialised and instead of the economy being on a crest, it lies in a deeper hole than ever before. Part of the problem lies with the economic malaise being experienced all over the world but for the main part, the problem lies squarely with the failures of the Zuma administration.
The ANC led government is humungous and totally, totally unaffordable. The debt it has run up is equally humungous. These two factors have left no room for government to manoeuvre.
The Speaker and the ruling party must never under estimate the intelligence of the people. If the ruling party believes that the poor and the jobless will buy its ploy of appointing the Motlanthe panel to remedy poverty, inequality and joblessness, it is clutching at straws. The ruling party’s record since 2009 has been abysmal. Most people have lost hope of government turning things around.
COPE sees more money going down the drain with the appointment of this panel. From our perspective, very little good will come out of this added expenditure. Parliament could have easily reviewed a dozen laws without any panel because most MPs know which laws have been most problematic in respect of job creation and poverty alleviation. The ruling party, unfortunately, does not have the will to do what is necessary. Furthermore, it is seriously conflicted by being three parties with three different ideas rolled loosely into one.
Worst of all, the ruling party has failed in implementing many good laws and policies already existing. It must also blame itself for failing to implement the NDP full bore.
Issued Dennis Bloem, COPE spokesperson