Aaron Motsoaledi apologises to MPs for 'political agendas' jibe

MPs demanded that home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi explain why he 'insulted' them during a recent interview. File photo
MPs demanded that home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi explain why he 'insulted' them during a recent interview. File photo

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s comments during a TV interview earlier this month suggesting that MPs did not understand the lawmaking processes came back to bite him in parliament on Tuesday.

MPs demanded that Motsoaledi explain why he “insulted” them during an interview with JJ Tabane about 10 days ago, when he suggested the criticism over government's failure to implement the Border Management Authority Act could be fuelled by political agendas, including factional wars in the ANC.

Motsoaledi said the MPs who sat on the home affairs portfolio committee should know the processes followed before a law can be implemented.

Responding to Tabane asking whether there was discord between himself and the parliamentary committee, particularly chairperson Bongani Bongo of the ANC, over the management of SA’s borders, Motsoaledi said the president assenting an act into law does not make that act automatically operational.

He said MPs should know this “even more”.

The minister said his views were based in law, specifically the Border Management Authority Act, which MPs had accused him and the government of lacking the political will to implement.

“What I’ve realised, JJ, and I’ve been in government long enough to qualify to say it, is that sometimes MPs pass certain acts and expect the minister to implement a different thing altogether.

“No act of parliament can be implemented without regulations,” Motsoaledi said in the interview.

He said these were still being put together and would need to be presented to unions and to the same portfolio committee before they could be implemented.

“I’ve seen MPs standing on public platforms talking about something different to what they have passed in parliament,” said Motsoaledi.

This had been painful, he said.

“These are politicians with agendas all the time and maybe they might be playing on those agendas and the wars that are taking place inside the ANC itself. Who knows,” he said.

At the start of Tuesday's meeting, in which the portfolio committee was due to discuss the findings of its oversight visits to three border posts, Motsoaledi was asked to explain his comments.

His department accounts to the home affairs portfolio committee.

Bongo said unhappy MPs had written to him about Motsoaledi’s interview.

Motsoaledi said he was “very surprised and a bit confused” that there were MPs who believed “what I said was sort of insulting the committee or challenging their oversight role”.

“I don't ever challenge the oversight role of this committee. I recognise it because its in the statute book,” he said, revealing he had been part of a home affairs team which prepared presentations given to MPs at border posts.

He said in his response to Tabane, he was trying to explain that what was happening was not lack of political will but was a manner in which he interpreted the statute to be implemented.

Motsoaledi went into great detail explaining to MPs what “a lack of political will” meant, saying it had to do with obstructing a statute passed by parliament and assented to by the president.

Eventually, he apologised.

“If anybody felt I was insulting them, I’m sorry about that. It’s not my style to insult. I prefer to dialogue with people rather than insult them.”

EFF MP Mgcini Tshwaku said he had been taken aback when the minister “rubbished us” by saying MPs don’t know anything and “just play politics”.


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