The Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement that the Health Portfolio Committee of the Eastern Cape Legislature will be meeting virtually tomorrow for the first time.
This follows after I wrote to the Speaker of the Legislature, Helen Sauls-August, last week, to point out that the rules of the House make provision for meetings to take place via other platforms, and request that the portfolio meetings continue during lockdown using video conferencing technology.
My colleague, the shadow MEC of Health, Jane Cowley, MPL, also requested that the meeting of the Health Portfolio Committee be prioritised.
At a time like this, the Legislature has an even greater responsibility to conduct its oversight function. The executive remains accountable to the legislature and this work needs to continue, particularly to assess the effectiveness of the operations of government during the lockdown period, and to ensure that all steps are taken to deal with this pandemic.
The British parliament has indicated that they will convene virtually after Easter, and the DA believes that our parliament should also consider the same.
The Democratic Alliance believes that accountability cannot come to a standstill during a time of crisis, it is vital that we adapt to the situation, and use innovation and technology to carry on with the work of the Legislature.
We have also called on the Speaker to ensure that the portfolio committees of Safety and Liaison, Public Works, Office of the Premier, Provincial Treasury, Social Development, Education as well as the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform be convened.
The purpose of these meetings would be to access the effectiveness of departmental programmes in the current environment, to ascertain whether or not they are making a meaningful impact, and to make findings and recommendations in this regard.
At a time like this when we are confronting the unknown, all parties need to work together to find the best solutions for the province.
We wish to emphasise that we are living in a constitutional democracy, where the functioning of parliament is a key component and although we appreciate the difficulties under the current circumstances, we need to adapt so that the work of the legislature can continue.