PAIA attention: DA to use law to force ministers to show their ‘report card’ outcomes
The DA says it will submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to individual cabinet ministers to establish the outcomes of their performance assessments.
It is in the interests of democracy, transparency and accountability as outlined in the constitution that parliament and the people of South Africa know how the government has performed, said DA leader John Steenhuisen.
This was particularly important ahead of the elections as voters should have the opportunity to judge for themselves the performance of various ministers to inform their voting choices, he said.
As a result, the DA will submit PAIA applications to each national ministry to obtain the full performance assessment of each cabinet minister. The explanatory guidelines of each performance agreement, signed by each minister, detail:
- the creation and implementation of performance targets;
- the drafting of report cards on performance progress with supporting evidence supplied by departments;
- the tabling of risk assessments and emerging policy issues, including key actions taken to address them;
- the provision of metrics and data to the Presidency to gauge ministerial performance; and
- a process to convene meetings between the president and a minister to discuss any suboptimal performance.
Since these were exercises of public duty and public power, Steenhuisen said, it made sense that results of ministers' performance assessments were publicly available.
“We believe that all of this information belongs in the public domain and will ensure that South Africans can see the performance of their government to gauge for themselves how much the ANC has truly bettered the lives of South Africans over the past term,” said Steenhuisen.
“As previously announced, should President Cyril Ramaphosa continue to withhold this information from the public and deny the PAIA application, we will consider approaching the courts.
“South Africans deserve to know the truth as to what our president really thinks of his ministers — and after all their dismal failures throughout the years, whether he has the spine to take the requisite action against them.”
The DA has previously sought access to the outcomes of ministers’ performance reviews, but their initial attempt was declined by planning, monitoring and evaluation minister Maropene Ramokgopa.
The reviews were conducted between April and July.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya told journalists last week the performance assessments will remain confidential because Ramaphosa did not want the information to be used as a “political” tool to make his colleagues look bad.
Meanwhile, in its assessment of the sixth parliament’s performance, the DA claimed the institution was still falling short on its constitutional obligations, which include holding the executive to account.
It accused the ANC of using its majority to stifle oversight, institute cover-ups, protect the executive and contort the workings of South Africa’s legislature to suit the party rather than the country and its people.
“In this climate of ANC unaccountability, parliament also laboured under the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown, which centralised executive power under the Disaster Management Act and made no provision for parliamentary oversight over decisions taken by the government during this period,” said DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube.
As a result, the lockdown gave Ramaphosa and his cabinet unfettered powers, many of which were abused and exploited for political gain, she said.
Another blow to the institution was the fire that destroyed parts of the National Assembly and the precinct in 2022, making it impossible for MPs to move back to full, in-person sittings and further hampering parliament’s ability to conduct its business.
Gwarube said perhaps the biggest failure of the sixth parliament was the suboptimal performance of the national executive under Ramaphosa, who himself evaded parliament and treated it in much the same way as his predecessor.
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