Ask tough questions and hold us to account - Minister pleads for more Executive scrutiny by Members of Parliament

Parliament, Wednesday, 15 May 2013 – Parliament’s social and economic transformation programmes must be guided by a long-term vision if they are they to be sustainable. Addressing the 3rd International Consultative Seminar in Cape Town yesterday, Minister in the Presidency, Mr Trevor Manuel said the National Development Plan is government’s long-term vision and plan which provides overarching goals to be achieved by 2013 and it outlines targets which are carefully calibrated milestones along a path to prosperity and equity for all South Africans.

In his speech, entitled “Perspectives on the role of Parliaments and Legislatures in long-term sustainable economic growth and development”, Manuel reminded delegates that Parliament plays a pivotal role in the long-term growth and development objectives of the country. “It is in Parliament where the debates about what is in the best interests of the public should be raised.”

Manuel said long-term economic development starts with effective oversight of public finances, of policies and implementation thereof. “Parliament has to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis of all proposals and plans. Every proposal, no matter how trivial, has a cost a benefit. Every rand spent by government has an opportunity cost,” he said.  

The minister also said long-term sustainable growth and development require consistent and critical engagement and oversight. Whether it is in the reduction of public debt and the release of funds towards social spending or oversight of implementation of the long-term goals of the National Development Plan, it is Parliament that has the responsibility to ensure that government keeps its promises to the people.

In his keynote address to the seminar, the Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe emphasised the need to improve the institutional capacity of Legislatures in order to maximise research capacity and strengthen Legislatures’ ability to conduct in-depth investigations and analysis of government plans, programmes and reports.

The two-day annual seminar is hosted by the South Africa Legislative Sector and is part of the broader dialogue process between South Africa and the European Union.

Mr Motlanthe said,”Members of Parliament who are skilled and well informed are better able to fulfil their duties and responsibilities as public representatives and are more proactive in lobbying, networking and interacting with various sectors.”