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Speech by Honourable Richard Mdakane on the occasion of debate on the motion to dissolve the National Assembly

5 September 2017

Madam Speaker
Ministers
Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members

Introduction

Last month, Members of the National Assembly were called upon to debate the 8th Motion of No Confidence in the President of our Republic.

Majority of the Members rejected this Motion because it was not about deepening our constitutional democracy or addressing the socio-economic challenges facing majority of our people. Instead, it was about grandstanding by the DA and its political cousins represented in this House which seek attention of our people through frivolous Motions.

Yet again, today Members of this House are required to debate a Motion to dissolve the National Assembly - a motion that is no different from many other Motions tabled before. These Motions seek to divert attention of the ANC government away from advancing transformation of society and delivering services to the majority of our people whose only beacon of hope remains the ANC.

At the outset maybe we should try to establish some facts from the DA to understand the illogic nature of the motion. Any rational mind, and we take decisions on the basis of rationality, would have to ask themselves on what rational grounds is this motion being brought.

Given that it would be difficult to establish an answer on the grounds of rationality the question then arises as to who has given you such bad advice to table such a motion and if it is someone in our caucus then your cause is in trouble.

This is a House where we table motions that address the plight of our people not attention seeking motions.

The motion says more about the state of the DA today and its leadership, since if your Caucus has agreed to such a motion you are in fact making an admission that you have failed to represent the masses of our people who voted for you and so you want to dissolve the National Assembly despite the oath you took.

What you are saying to the nation is that you know that you were elected but you are incapable of finishing a 5 year term of office and therefore you have failed as the DA.

You are admitting that you can't sustain oversight work anymore, you can't sustain legislative drafting anymore, you can't perform your duties anymore and therefore all parties must be dissolved as you dissolve the National Assembly.

This is recklessness of the worst order, to plunge a nation into uncertainty, manufacture doubt and on top of it instruct other parties that the National Assembly must be dissolved. Whose mandate do you have, because you don't have a mandate even in your own party. We all have read the press clips that have been circulating.

Never take a decision in anger, it will come back at you. This motion is a display of supreme arrogance since you want us to take a decision that impacts on all parties without having the decency and respect to first discuss it with us.

No wonder your coalition partners are having cold feet. 1994 was about restoring the dignity to our people not reinforcing dictatorial tendencies.

You have not even done an impact analysis of the implications of what you are calling for.

The motion consciously appropriates s50 (1) of the Constitution in that the Constitution is explicit as to who has the powers to dissolve the National Assembly, the very President who you wanted to remove from Office on the 8th of August, you now want him to assist you to dissolve the National Assembly. Such behavior is unprincipled.

Constitutional aspects

Like in many other democracies, the Constitution of our republic provides for dissolution of the National Assembly. In particular, the Constitution makes provision for the National Assembly to take a resolution for its own dissolution if majority of its Members support the Dissolution Motion; provided that three years has passed after election.

As an organization that supports and respects the Constitution and constitutional democracy, the ANC does not have any problem when certain Members of this House exercise their constitutional right to propose the Motion, including the Motion we are debating today.

As we debate issues in this House, we must never forget that we have a collective responsibility to defend the Constitution and the country and to respect the people who sent us to this public representative institution with a mandate to represent them and their interests, hopes and dreams.

Undermining will of the people

However, what we must never allow are baseless Motions by political parties that use all sorts of tricks to undermine will of the majority. The Motion to dissolve the National Assembly has nothing to do with failure of the National Assembly to uphold the Constitution. It is more about using legal and constitutional means to legitimize dirty tricks that seek to circumvent the will of the majority.

As the ANC, we reject the Motion by the Democratic Alliance to dissolve the National Assembly. The Motion should be understood within the context of respecting the people and their will when it comes to governance issues. Support for the Motion would amount to disrespecting the will of the masses of our people.

We should remember that, in 2014 masses of the South African people expressed their will and political preferences in no uncertain terms. They exercised their democratic right to vote during 2014 general elections knowing that they are giving public representatives five years to represent them and to address their issues. These masses voted knowing that they would be able to review that mandate given to the current Parliament at the end of five years.

We are now told that the people no longer have confidence in the National Assembly. This is not a correct representation of the collective views of the masses of our people.

Reality is that, no scientific evidence has been produced to show that our people believe that the National Assembly no longer represents them. Neither is there any evidence showing that our people want to suddenly end term of the National Assembly.

Instead, it is the Democratic Alliance, a political party that received a mere 22.2% of electoral support during the 2014 general elections, which claims to know how majority of the people feel about the National Assembly. It wants us to believe that this majority has told them that the National Assembly no longer represents them.

Because the Democratic Alliance does not represent the majority of our people, we must not allow it to impose on the masses of our people will of their few supporters.

What we know as a matter of fact is that, the masses of our people expect us, as public representatives, to be very busy addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and enequality.

The masses of our people believe that Motion to dissolve National Assembly will disrupt government programmes. They believe that success of this Motion will plunge the country into unfortunate situation that will further delay delivery of services to the poor communities, which mainly rely on government services for their living.

Of much interest to negative liberals is their narrow self-interest and soft issues that are useful for political grandstanding, which they push at the expense of the masses. Well, this is what we have to contend with if negative liberals operate in our political space. These are the people who will see failure even where there is none.

National Assembly has not failed

Let me remind the Democratic Alliance and others who believe that the National Assembly has failed to discharge its constitutional responsibilities that, the Constitution of our republic obliges the National Assembly to pass laws and to oversee work of the National Executive.

Over the years, the National Assembly has worked hard and with diligence in discharging these two important constitutional responsibilities. There is enough evidence to show success in this regard.

Since 1994, Parliament passed about 1 023 pieces of legislation through the sterling work by Members of this very House in their respective Portfolio Committees. With so many pieces of legislation passed, our democratic Parliament should be congratulated instead of being vilified for the failures that are imagined by the Democratic Alliance, which is desperate to collapse governance for political survival.

Just Thursday last week, President Jacob Zuma, the Head of the National Executive was in this House to respond to the Questions by Members of the National Assembly, which he did with respect and diligence.

Deputy President Ramaphosa has on several occasions been called upon to come and respond to the Questions posed by the Members of this House; something he also did with respect and diligence.

The same applies to all the Ministers who have been responding to Questions for Oral and Written Reply posed by Members of this House.

Who does not know about diligent work of Scopa in scrutizing expenditure by government departments and other entities and in exposing maladministration and corruption in these departments and entities?

Those with eyes and ears have seen and heard about the commendable work of various Committees of the National Assembly in subjecting the State Owned Enterprises to rigorous scrutiny associated with their internal governance systems and processes, maladministration and fraud corruption and other dubious decisions. With their intervention, certain decisions by the Board of Directors of affected State Owned Enterprises were reversed.

With the rigorous work of the Honourable Members in engaging with the President, Deputy President, Ministers and administrative leadership of the government departments and entities, including State Owned Enterprises, people of South Africa have witnessed Members of this House in action within the context of executing a mandate of the National Assembly to hold the National Executive accountable.

It is not the National Assembly that has failed to discharge its responsibilities. It is the Democratic Alliance that has failed to recognize good work of the National Assembly, which is the case because it does not have any interest on what is good about parliament, government and the country. For them to acknowledge these successes would be an admission that the ANC is able to govern.

Regime change

The question the Honourable Maimane has to answer here is: On what grounds is he calling for the dissolution of the National Assembly?

Given the mountain of evidence we have already mentioned which points to successes rather than failure of the National Assembly, we are left with one conclusion that the Democratic Alliance is driven by deep seated desire to bring about regime change in our country.

This Motion does not seek to effect governance change as they claim and want us to believe. Instead, it has more to do with the Democratic Alliance trying to effect regime change through clandestine ways that undermine established electoral principles and norms governing the electoral system in our constitutional democracy.

These undemocratic attempts by the Democratic Alliance through unfounded Motions such as the one we are debating today must not succeed. They must fail because in the words of Gramsci, the ANC acquired political mandate through the intellectual, moral and cultural persuasion of the masses, and not through coercion and violence.

We chose this route because we fully understand that our electoral system creates space for all political parties, including Democratic Alliance, to persuade voters to vote for them during elections as political authority in our country can only be legitimate if it is based on the will of the people. It cannot be the rating agencies and other agents of regime change that determine strategic direction of our country through speculative considerations of a possible strategic advance.

Never at any stage must our country and its people give credence to the Motions that are informed by the views and opinions of the agents of the regime change agenda, which cause great damage to our economy and the country as a whole.

Through their public representatives in this House, our people must refuse to allow any political maneuvering geared towards effecting regime through this Parliament.

Once again, let re-state the ANC's position. We reject the Motion tabled by the Democratic Alliance to dissolve the National Assembly.

I thank you.

     
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