August 20, 2019

South Africa’s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) is in complete disarray according to SEÁN MFUNDZA MULLER who once worked there. In the 10 years since it was established by law, and the five years it has been in operation, the Office has failed to adhere to key principles of institutional and political independence, technical credibility and transparency. For these and other reasons it has failed to give parliamentarians, and the public, a credible alternative analysis of South Africa’s public finances.

Lost in all the fuss about the political party (read ANC) candidates lists ‑ and who did and who did not make it, and who’s in and who’s out ‑ is an obvious but not yet asked question: why would anybody want to be elected to the sixth parliament? The fifth parliament rose in March this year leaving a lot of unfinished business, much of which will be inherited by those who next take up the seats in the Chambers.

The fifth parliament has been a parliament of firsts. It was the first time bloody noses were seen in the chamber, the first time the riot police were called into the house, the first time members were manhandled and thrown out by security staff. Remember when parliament used to be boring?

The ANC in parliament is under close management by Luthuli House, whose decisions are final, writes Ben Turok, former ANC MP and now Director of the Institute for African Alternatives. In a presentation at the Gordon Institute of Business Science he warns that the ruling party intervenes in parliament’s political decisions, resulting in a bureaucratic, instead of a political, environment.

A departing offering of the fifth Parliament, unveiled on the day that the National Assembly rose for the last time, is a series of principles appended to the steps that lead to the building in which the National Assembly holds its plenary sessions.

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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