Minister Sisulu should read with comprehension before she publicly wrecks herself

The Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, blatantly violated section 195(g) of the Constitution, and impeded a fellow Member of Parliament’s ability to oversee executive actions, when she refused to furnish Parliament with the details of the contractors involved in the Alliance housing project in Ekurhuleni.

In response, the Democratic Alliance (DA) released a statement condemning the Minister for justifying her actions based on a document ostensibly titled “Guide to Parliamentary Questions in the National Assembly.” No evidence of such a document exists, and we urge the Minister to furnish us with the document.

The Minister did not take kindly to this statement and released a counter-statement wherein she cited a guideline pertaining to the stating of personal details in questions as reason for her omission to abide by the Constitution.

According to the Minister, this guideline from this secretive document, quoted below, justifies her omission to do her job (my emphases):

“…Names of persons, bodies and, for example, newspapers are only used in questions if the facts surrounding the case have been proven. As the mere mention of such names could be construed as publicity for or against them, it should be clear that this practice is highly undesirable. If a question will be unintelligible without mentioning such names, the Departments concerned are notified of the name (-s) and this phrase is used:   “…….a certain person (name furnished).”

Apart from the fact that secretive guidelines do not trump constitutional provisions, as highlighted in the excerpt above, the guideline which Minister Sisulu is relying on so heavily, pertains to questions _and not to replies to questions_.

We therefore extend a friendly advisory to Minister Sisulu to, firstly, refrain from citing guidelines, the mere existence of which is doubtful, to excuse her unconstitutional conduct, and secondly, to refrain from citing guidelines that do not even pertain to replies to parliamentary questions, but instead only have bearing on the questions themselves. In a post-truth world plagued by misinformation, the Minister would do well not to make herself guilty of perpetuating falsehoods that undermine our democratic project.

We will not be deterred by Ministers who are not interested in doing their jobs. We will not stop our pursuit of answers for the communities of Alliance and Lindelani.

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