Restore the dignity of legislature

The camaraderie shown this week should not fool anyone into thinking that the ruling party and its opposition in the House will be treating each other with kid gloves, as seen here when a scuffle broke out between the EFF and DA at President Cyril Ramaphosa's question and answer parliamentary session.
The camaraderie shown this week should not fool anyone into thinking that the ruling party and its opposition in the House will be treating each other with kid gloves, as seen here when a scuffle broke out between the EFF and DA at President Cyril Ramaphosa's question and answer parliamentary session.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

This afternoon will see the newly elected public representatives being sworn in as MPs.

Among their first duties as MPs would be to elect a National Assembly speaker as well as the deputy speaker.

But the highlight of the day would undoubtedly be the re-election of President Cyril Ramaphosa as head of state, this time with a popular mandate behind him.

The first day of the new parliament usually proceeds without drama and MPs, from across the political spectrum, tend to be friendly to one another - seemingly relieved that the bruising campaign period is finally over.

Even as the incoming MPs were registering yesterday, this camaraderie was playing itself out as Ramaphosa went out of his way to congratulate EFF leader Julius Malema, whose share of the seats in the House has grown to 44 following the elections.

Their banter, however, should not fool anyone into thinking that the ruling party and its opposition in the House will be treating each other with kid gloves. They won't and they shouldn't.

The job of the MPs, especially those in the opposition, is to hold those in power to account. We expect the debates to be as robust as they have often been in the past and for those elected to positions of authority to always respect parliament.

Our message to the MPs is that they have a huge responsibility of restoring the dignity of the legislature as an important arm of the state.

The sixth parliament should be a marked improvement on the fifth National Assembly whose first three to four years were marred by the majority of MPs' attempt to shield a wayward president - who was a chief enabler of state capture - from being held to account for his actions.

With parliament failing to do its work, South Africa had to rely on the courts to defend the democratic state from those who were bent on weakening it for their corrupt objectives.

We call on the 400 National Assembly members who will be sworn in today to take seriously their oath to "be faithful to the Republic of South Africa and obey, respect and uphold the constitution and all other law of the Republic".

This should mean that, for them, the constitution comes before the interests of any party they'll be representing in the House.

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