Dear Editor

In response to Jim Pattison’s letter, “DA asks questions of govt without effect” (the Herald, October 21), I must point out that questions are the most powerful tool opposition parties have to call government to account.

Official questions, which are formally tabled in the house, must be replied to within time frames in terms of the Standing Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Legislature.  If this is not done, the particular MEC has to stand up in the House at the next meeting of the Legislature and explain to his MPLs why a question was not answered.  This rule is rigidly enforced by the Speaker.

As a result, numerous problems get resolved by departments who go out and fix a hotspot before the MEC answers, to spare him any embarrassment because of a negative reply.

The public will be interested to know that because MPLs have privilege, they can submit any questions relating to corruption and maladministration without legal consequences.

There have been numerous successes over the years in resolving issues ranging from corruption, the firing of officials, exposing maladministration, ensuring payment of pensions, salaries and suppliers, as well as halting of the wastage of public funds: thanks to the many questions asked by the DA.  Without the questioning procedure, which is available to public representatives, our democracy would be worse off.

Bobby Stevenson
DA Leader in the Legislature

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