Ministers Cele, De Lille and Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula a no-show at Parliamentary fire meeting

This morning, the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament was due to receive a briefing from the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele; Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille; and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe- Mapisa-Nqakula on the ongoing investigations into the fire that destroyed Parliament.

At the eleventh hour, the committee was notified that the meeting has been canceled due to the unavailability of the Ministers and the Speaker. This is unacceptable and a complete disregard for Parliament’s oversight role.

The DA will be writing to the Chair of Chairs, Mr Cedrick Frolick and the Leader of Government Business, Deputy President David Mabuza to urgently intervene on this matter. The Ministers must be reprimanded by Parliament as a matter of urgency and the Chairs of this committee sternly reminded of their role in holding the executive to account.

This committee has summoned the Minister of Police in particular to account for the security breach that led to the burning down of Parliament while under the 24-hour guard of the South African Police Service (SAPS). The Minister is yet to provide an account to Parliament since the fire broke out and a suspect was arrested.

In addition, the Speaker of the National Assembly accounts to this committee. As the head of this institution, she ought to understand the importance of prioritizing appearing before this body especially when the discussion centers around the failure of systems to prevent this devastating fire.

For too long Parliament has been ignored by the Executive and often as an optional accountability mechanism.

That can no longer be allowed to happen.

The DA is fighting for the national legislature to get its teeth back; hold the executive to account and truly represent South Africans. The investigations into this fire are no different.

Between Parliament, the South African Police Service and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, the truth about what happened that day must be sought and those responsible need to be held accountable. That cannot happen when the committee simply accepts flimsy excuses for non-attendance.