2000

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

MEDIA RELEASE

THE REFUSAL BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO RESPOND TO INTERPELLATION BY HB HOLOMISA

MEDIA STATEMENT ISSUED BY BANTU HOLOMISA,
UDM PRESIDENT

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Zuma, and her deputy, Aziz Pahad, have flatly refused to respond to an interpellation by the UDM President, Bantu Holomisa, on the spurious grounds that they are too busy to respond. This is cause for concern as this is yet another demonstration of disregard for parliamentary processes and a cynical indifference to the principle of accountability which is the cornerstone of any democracy. It is a manifestation of a by now familiar trend of the executive ignoring questions posed to it in parliament. Last year the Cabinet did not respond to more than 300 questions.

We have in the past expressed our concerns about the executive’s relegation of parliament to an impotent institution which merely rubber stamps decisions already taken at a higher level. This arrogance corrodes democracy and could well testify to a surreptitious institutionalisation of authoritarianism.

The President of South Africa has been instrumental in putting through a resolution in the OAU that castigates and isolates governments that come to power by violent and undemocratic means. His behaviour and that of his ministers contradicts the spirit of that resolution by their treatment of parliamentary processes with contempt.

This raises questions about their sincerity about the promotion of democracy on the Continent when they have been busy arming non-democratic regimes in Uganda and Rwanda which action has resulted in the proliferation of weapons of war in the Great Lakes region and has a clear linkage with the wars in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The interpellation sought to establish the nature of our government’s interests and objectives in the Great Lakes region. This would reveal if our objectives are in line with our much vaunted peace initiatives in the region. Can we reconcile those peace objectives with our dealing in military hardware in the Great Lakes? Government have legislated against South Africans engaging in mercenary activity anywhere in the world. Yet we know of no action having been taken by government in the wake of numerous reports of the presence of South African mercenaries in the Great Lakes region.

The United Democratic Movement has a duty to bring these matters to the public attention. We will therefore initiate a dialogue with SADC member states and other players in Great Lakes to solicit and bring to the public’s attention all pertinent information about what is going on in the region. We will do this because the South African public has a right to know about our conduct in the region.

 Enquiries:
Bantu Holomisa
UDM President

29 February 2000