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Parliamentary unrest in South Africa could spur change

May 31, 2012

South Africa's Parliament recently gathered to discuss possible routes for improving public involvement in the governmental process. Currently, the government only interacts with the citizens of the nation by way of public hearings and open comment sessions when the Parliament makes changes to legislation, which many parliamentary members (MPs) feel is inadequate.

National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu raised the issue at a recent gathering of the Parliament, pointing out that many public and MP concerns are going unanswered. He cast part of the blame on the lack of member attendance at National Assembly meetings and called for stricter guidelines for MPs.

"There should be an implementable policy governing members' attendance," said Sisulu. Otherwise the wrong signal will continue to be sent to the public, which is that there are no consequences for members who do not attend the proceedings of Parliament."

The speech touched on the importance of taking government seriously as well as utilizing the resources they have at their disposal to benefit the country.

"We have an abundance of willing and able stakeholders, including academia, research institutions, special-interest groups and civil society, who, on an ongoing basis are able to ensure that we have access to independent resources of specialized knowledge and information," Sisulu continued.

The speaker's concerns were answered by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, according to AllAfrica. Motlanthe claimed executive members "take this responsibility seriously," but the news source indicates only 6 percent of parliamentary questions were answered last year.

Those who want to hear the latest political updates can make calls to South Africa with international phone cards and discuss the government with their friends.

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