isters commit to answering outstanding questions

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pretoria - Ministers have committed themselves to ensure that all outstanding parliamentary questions are answered before parliament rises.

Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday the total number of outstanding parliamentary questions stood at 396 as opposed to the misleading number of 510 that was mentioned in the National Assembly.

Maseko said the Deputy President's office will continue to monitor this matter to ensure that questions are answered within the stipulated timeframe.

On Wednesday, President Kgalema Motlanthe said he was also confident that ministers will in the future answer parliamentary questions timeously.

"As Leader of Government Business, it is both my duty and my responsibility to ensure that Cabinet Ministers are reminded of their obligation and I do so by regularly reporting, in detail, to each meeting of Cabinet, the number of questions each Minister has outstanding.

"Even this morning I did this. I am confident that we will arrive at a point where we will have no outstanding questions."

Motlanthe was answering questions in the National Assembly.

He said the Rules of this House provide mechanisms for ensuring that questions to the Executive were answered.

"As these Rules are adopted by this House and not the Executive I believe it would be up to the National Assembly to decide whether there is a need to tighten up these Rules or to strengthen them in some way," Motlanthe said.

He said one of the MPs suggested that if ministers do not reply to their written questions within the time limits, they have to stand up in the House and explain why not.

"I had indicated in my response that if the National Assembly decides to introduce this rule, I will support it. I am not aware of such a proposal having been made to the National Assembly Rules Committee," Motlanthe said.