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12 out 35 ministers show up for members' statements

News24 - Wednesday 14th March, 2018

Cape Town - Out of South Africa's 35 ministers, only 12 graced members' statements in the National Assembly with their presence on Tuesday afternoon.

This is 12 more than Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday, opposition MPs were up in arms when not a single minister showed up for members' statements - one of the ways in which the National Assembly holds the executive to account.

READ: Opposition MPs bay for absent ministers' blood

All opposition parties called for ministers to be sanctioned.

On Tuesday, ministers Derek Hanekom, Gwede Mantashe, Zweli Mkhize, Lindiwe Zulu, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Rob Davies, Senzeni Zokwana, Edna Molewa, Naledi Pandor, Gugile Nkwinti and Michael Masutha were in attendance, while Malusi Gigaba, who was grilled in the state capture inquiry about his ties to the Guptas, came in as the last statement was read, stopping to shake hands with ANC backbencher Bongani Bongo.

FF Plus MP Corne Mulder said members' statements were an important oversight measure and recalled how every minister was absent on Thursday.

"Why was not a single minister present on the day?" he asked.

The fiery Zulu had some interjections, and Mulder said he was glad "that minister" wanted to answer his question.

She jumped up for a point of order.

"I'm not that minister. I am Lindiwe Daphne Zulu," she said.

"Ginger!" cried some EFF MPs, their nickname for Zulu in reference to her hair colour.

While Davies, Masutha and Zokwana all responded to members' statements, as did deputy ministers Luwellyn Landers and Madala Masuku, only Mapisa-Nqakula responded to Mulder's enquiry about their absence.

ALSO READ: 'Concerned' Mbete writes to Mabuza over absent ministers

"I think I should say, with all due respect, ministers who were not in the House on Thursday, were not [absent] out of disrespect," she said.

She said it was not to undermine the authority or the oversight function of the House, and added that there could be several reasons why ministers did not attend.

On Monday, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen wrote to speaker Baleka Mbete to request that ministers who were not present be sanctioned for contempt of Parliament.

He added that Mbete herself said, in an affidavit, that members' statements were an important way to keep the executive to account.

Before the members' statements were heard, House chairperson Grace Boroto read a ruling on behalf of Mbete, in which she said the matter was part of the "continuing engagement" between her and the leader of government business, Deputy President David Mabuza.

"Where is he?" shouted some DA MPs, pointing at Mabuza's empty seat.

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