Wednesday 22 May

The People’s Power People’s Parliament: A civil society conference on South Africa’s Legislatures, (“the conference”) was held from 13 – 15 August, 2012, at the Townhouse Hotel, Cape Town. The aim of the conference was to open a constructive dialogue with Parliament on behalf of civil society and take up the call to make Parliament more conducive to active citizenship. During the conference, representatives of citizen organisations engaged with Parliament with the aim of critiquing the public participation processes, identifying the shortcomings in Parliament’s oversight role of the executive and coming up with resolutions that will enhance Parliament’s ability to fulfil its constitutional mandate.

In her presentation Education in Limpopo- A failure of legislative oversight_ Nikki Stein highlighted the failure of legislative oversight that led up to the Limpopo textbook crisis. The interest shown by private individuals and private companies to assist with the resolution of the crisis highlights deafening silence from our representatives in the legislature, who should have played a key role in preventing this problem, and in ensuring delivery of books and the implementation of the catch-up plan in compliance with the court orders.

Daygan Eagar’s presentation The EC Budget crisis- A failure of the legislature , highlighted a similar failure of oversight on the part of the Legislature which led up to the current health crisis in the Eastern Cape. The failure of the Legislature to properly scrutinise and monitor the budget meant that they could not anticipate the budget shortfall which has now translated into a crisis. And even now when the crisis is widely known and acknowledged, the legislature remains conspicuously absent from public debates on the issue.

The conference came up with recommendations to address the issues raised at the conference. The resolutions were part of a memorandum which was handed over to a representative of Parliament. The memorandum is available here Peoples-Parliament-Memorandum