The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) says is concerned that Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu is resisting being properly accountable to Parliament.
The party says the Cabinet is but an executive committee of Parliament and must account to its parent body. “The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is required by the Constitution to scrutinise and oversee the Department of Defence,” DA defence shadow minister David Maynier says.
“But this is almost impossible to do given the fact that three and a half months after being appointed the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla have not appeared before the portfolio committee,” he adds, saying that Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Godfrey Ngwenya and the chiefs of the various Services have also not yet appeared before the Fourth Parliament elected in April.
Maynier also complains that in addition “every substantive briefing on the defence force, military veterans and defence industry to the Portfolio Committee” in the last month has been postponed by the DoD.
“The briefing on the state of combat readiness of the South African Army and South African Air Force, scheduled for August 11, was postponed. The briefing on the state of combat readiness of the South African Navy and South African Military Health Service, scheduled for August 12, was postponed. And the briefing on the state of readiness of the South African defence related industry, scheduled for August 19, was postponed.”
The DA MP is further displeased at the quality of written answers received from the DoD. He says “rather than providing comprehensive answers to parliamentary questions within the required ten days, the minister provides non-replies. Of the 26 replies to Parliamentary questions, eight questions were comprehensively answered, five questions were partially answered and 13 questions were simply not answered.
“The non-replies from the DoD simply stated that ‘As soon as I receive the reply information, the reply will be forwarded to Parliament`.
Maynier says this “is a cynical old trick often used to dodge replies to Parliamentary questions since the ‘non replies` are recorded as ‘replies` by the questions office in Parliament.”
The DA says it will take up the matter with Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans chairman Mnyamezeli Booi “and appeal to him to compel the DoD to put in place a comprehensive programme of briefings on the defence force, military veterans and the defence industry so that they can be properly held to account by Parliament.”
Sisulu`s office had not responded to the charges by the time of publication.
Pic: Minister of Defence and Military Veterans -Lindiwe Sisulu