The Democratic Alliance, the official opposition in South Africa’s National Assembly, is questioning the role of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (JSCDMV).
The committee includes members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces and has been in existence since 1994.
DA shadow deputy defence minister James Lorimer says the JSCDMV only met twice this year, the last time being last Friday when the committee elected African National Congress (ANC) MP Dan Montsisi co-chair.
“The election took place on Friday morning after a delay of almost an hour because not enough MPs could be found to make a quorum. This was the second meeting of the committee this year. The first meeting was only held to elect a chair. The purpose of today’s meeting was to elect a co-chair. The committee has yet to do any work,” said Lorimer.
The position of chair carries with it a salary increase for Montsisi of R250 000 a year.
“The role of the Joint Standing Committee is unclear. Until now it has added no value, but will cost South Africa half a million Rand in salary for the two co-chairs over the next year.
“The inescapable conclusion is that the ANC is using these positions to reward its MPs by generous supplements to their salaries. It would be interesting to see whether the total number of ministers, deputy ministers, whips and committee chairs outnumber ordinary MPs,” Lorimer added.
Lorimer says he will ask for a report from Parliament on the number of times Joint Standing Committees have met, and for clarification on exactly what their role is intended to be.
In addition to the JSCDMV Parliament also has a Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence that oversees the intelligence agencies. There is no separate intelligence portfolio committee in the National Assembly.
Pic: Parliament, Cape Town