It is now almost two months since my return to the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, after a period of absence of four years. My return to the province on a full time basis has been a relatively easy and fruitful experience. My return to the legislature has regrettably been less easy and considerably less fruitful.
It is understandably difficult to go back to where one was before and having spent ten years in the legislature before, makes this all the more difficult. What has frustrated me is the fact that very little has changed here in the past four years and the ongoing water and electricity outages serve to demoralise everyone in the institution. (This is symptomatic of the level of dysfunctionality of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government.)
The budget debates scheduled for the passing of the provincial budget were scheduled over a period of two days. This meant that we had to consider and debate the budgets for 14 departments and each debate was allocated 98 minutes. Not only did the scheduling reflect poorly on the importance of these debates, it also incriminated the programming directorate of the legislature which is ultimately the responsibility of the Speaker.
The Speaker should at least ensure that such important matters are given the necessary attention and his failure to do this in this regard serves only to undermine the importance of the legislature, which should play a critically important role in the separation of power between the executive and the legislature. In this instance I believe that the legislature was guilty of shooting itself in the foot.