A meeting of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) set for today (Friday) where important reports were due to be tabled and discussed has been cancelled, raising questions about the exercise of Parliamentary oversight.
One who is particularly unhappy about the last minute cancellation is Kobus Marais, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister.
In addition to being able to access quarterly reports of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) from last year and its 2015 annual report, the committee was also to have been briefed by the Defence Review Implementation Task Team.
Marais had also planned to use the meeting to raise the issue of the Presidential jet and its apparent maintenance shortcomings.
“Despite repeated calls for the committee to act, there has been no provision made in the committee’s third term to deal with this matter, which is simply unacceptable. To add insult to injury, the meeting scheduled for today, in which the DA would have raised this concern again, has also been cancelled, further delaying the exercise of any oversight in this regard,” he said adding Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has “to date been evasive in answering questions”.
“A sitting of the JSCD would not jeopardise the ‘national security’ that has in the past been used as a pretext to avoid scrutiny when it comes to defence matters.”