Dr Lionel Mtshali MPP, leader of the IFP
in the KZN Provincial Parliament, addressed the following open
letter to Premier Sibusiso Ndebele:
One has to resort to open letters as a
means of communication when all other possibilities of getting
one's message across and eliciting a suitable reply have failed.
This is what has happened recently to my attempt to ask a
routine parliamentary question.
As a parliamentarian and a member of the
Finance and Public Accounts committees, I expect full and
relevant answers to questions which have financial implications.
I am entitled to such information by virtue of my oversight role
and the provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information
Act. Under our system of parliamentary democracy, these
provisions render the Honorable Premier and Members of the
Executive accountable to the legislature and, by proxy, those
who have elected it in a democratic election.
On 7 April 2005 I submitted a question to
the Premier for written reply, in which I asked about the cost
of charter aircraft incurred by the provincial government during
a clearly defined period. I requested that these costs be
indicated separately for different means of air travel and
broken down per government department.
I subsequently allowed a sufficient notice
in terms of the standing rules of the KwaZulu-Natal Parliament.
On 24 August 2005, almost five months later and during a
parliamentary sitting, I received from the Premier, verbally, a
wholly inadequate reply containing incomplete and irrelevant
information. A single figure was provided with a vague breakdown
accompanied by a dubious explanation.
Does the Premier's delay, his obvious
reluctance to answer and the obscurity of the information
provided in reply mean that his department and his
administration have something to hide?
The pursuit of one's parliamentary
oversight role should, by definition, transcend day-to-day
politicking. It would appear that it does not. It would further
appear that in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Parliament it takes
an open letter to elicit a reply to questions which this routine
parliamentary process should yield in full and on time.
Such practice on the part of the Executive
is a clear violation of the laws regulating access to
information. It is in contravention of the spirit of this
Parliament's oversight role and against the idea of bringing
this Parliament to the people, a concept loudly promoted by the
ruling party. I hereby urge the Premier to promote transparency
and good governance in KwaZulu-Natal. He can start by answering