DA whip outlines targets for battle

A COMBATIVE DA is gearing up for a series of battles in Parliament that it believes are necessary to strengthen the institution and ensure that it holds the executive to account.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen outlined some of the targets of its parliamentary battle plan at a briefing on Monday.

High on the list is ensuring that the bills passed by Parliament are of high quality, can withstand constitutional and legal challenge, and are adopted according to Parliament’s rules. There had to be proper interrogation, public consultation and proper procedural processing of all law, Steenhuisen said.

He noted President Jacob Zuma’s return of the Performing Animals Protection Bill to Parliament. It was adopted by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) despite there not being a quorum for this.

“It is frankly embarrassing that we are seeing so many bills returned or at a risk of being returned to Parliament” because of the fatal flaws in their processing, Steenhuisen said. “It is vital that the ANC desist from using Parliament as a mere rubber-stamping mechanism for executive legislation.”

The DA also objected to the passage of the “flawed” Appropriations Bill because of the lack of a quorum in the NCOP. Zuma has, however, not referred it back to Parliament and the DA is seriously considering petitioning the Constitutional Court about this. This will require the support of one-third of all MPs and the DA will approach other opposition parties this week.

The DA raised procedural concerns about the passage of the Expropriation Bill through Parliament with Zuma, and Steenhuisen urged him to return it to Parliament without delay.

He said the DA was concerned that the Financial Sector Regulation Bill currently before the standing committee on finance was not being given the intense scrutiny it required.

Steenhuisen also urged reform of the ethics committee, which was strongly criticised by the High Court in Cape Town for its biased and unfair conduct regarding opposition DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

A new registrar of ethics needed to be appointed urgently and a new inspector-general of intelligence elected.

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