KwaZulu-Natal legislature speaker Willies Mchunu, has lashed out at people who undermine the office of the speaker.
He said this even undermined the president of the country.
Speaking in Durban yesterday during the inaugural Summit of Speakers, Mchunu said the undermining of the speaker's office was not only happening at municipal level, but was also a problem at the highest level, in parliament.
Mchunu was echoing sentiments expressed earlier by Nkonzoyakhe Donda, uThungulu district speaker, and James Nxumalo of eThekwini municipality who also complained that speakers' offices were not taken seriously.
"The office of the speaker is often undermined and not recognised though it has the most fundamental job of ensuring that the democratic processes of the law are followed in parliament, the legislatures and at municipal levels," Mchunu said.
"At provincial legislatures, the premier or the MECs will rather go to the mayor's office and look for answers there, leaving the speaker's office."
Mchunu said in most cases, the speaker's office was expected to operate without being allocated any budget.
"This is uncalled for. Most of the speakers fail because they are not capacitated. They don't have the money to perform," said Mchunu.
He said since December 2000, the role and responsibilities of speakers had evolved from just being the chair of council meetings.
Donda said their duty as speakers at municipal level was to rubber stamp what the mayor and the municipal manager had approved, which was derogatory to them.
Mike Mabuyakhulu, the provincial MEC for local government and traditional affairs, said one of the important duties of speakers was to ensure that the institutions they lead are functioning accordingly.