A close eye on SCOPA : A South African case study on parliamentary oversight and scrutiny

De Wet, Natasja (2006-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight can be seen as the most important tool to hold the executive, and therefore government, to account. It enforces an effective system of checks and balances in order to ensure that taxpayers are receiving value for their money, and that their needs are being catered for. This thesis will analyze the oversight framework in South Africa by examining the structures and functions of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in contrast to other strong oversight frameworks such as exist in the US Congress and Scandinavia. Dominant factors that affect the manner in which the executive is held to account, such as the role of the Chapter Nine Independent Institutions (the Auditor General and the Public Protector) and their respective Constitutional mandates (versus the committee system which has not been included as a section in the Constitution), will be brought into the spotlight. Also, the effect that a dominant party system (ensuring an ANC majority) has on parliamentary oversight will be compared with the Westminster system, which fails to effectively separate governing party interests from the respective mandates of the three spheres of government (the judiciary, legislature and the executive). This can degenerate into feckless pluralism. An examination of these actors and factors will help determine the extent to which SCOPA has been successful in enforcing the accountability of organs of the state. By determining the strengths and weaknesses of SCOPA, this thesis will determine whether the committee can be seen as the potent watchdog of parliament, or the friendly 'Goofy-dog' of government. Important findings rest on the assumption that COPA is not isolated from party politics, and an interdependent and complementary relationship between Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the Chapter Nine Independent Institutions have not been consolidated.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Parlementere ondersoek en oorsig kan beskou word as die belangrikste meganisme waardeur die uitvoerende gesag en derhalwe die regering verantwoordbaar gehou kan word. Dit versterk 'n effektiewe stelsel van kontrole om sodoende te verseker dat die belastingbetalers waarde vir hul geld ontvang en dat hul behoeftes na wense bevredig word. Hierdie tesis analiseer die oorsigraamwerk in Suid-Afrika deur die strukture en funksies van die Staande Komitee vir Openbare Rekeninge (SCOPA), in teenstelling met ander strenger oorsigraamwerke soos die in die VSA Kongres en Skandinawie te vergelyk. Dominante faktore wat 'n invloed het op die wyse waarop die uitvoerende gesag verantwoordbaar gehou word, insluitend die rol van die Hoofstuk Nege Onafhanklike Instellings - die OuditeurGeneraal en die Openbare Beskermer - sowel as hul onderskeie grondwetlike mandate (teenoor die komitee sisteem wat nie ingesluit is as 'n seksie in die Grondwet nie), sal ook in oenskou geneem word. Verder sal die uitwerking wat 'n dominante partystelsel (behoudend 'n ANC meerderheid) op die parlementere oorsigfunksie het, in verband gebring word met die Westministerstelsel wat nie daarin slaag om die belange van die regerende party te skei van die onderskeie mandate van die drie sfere van die regering (wetgewend, reggewend en uitvoerend) nie. Dit kan lei tot futlose pluralisme. 'n Ontleding van hierdie rolspelers en faktore sal help om die omvang van die sukses van SCOPA te bepaal in terme van die implementering van die verantwoordbaarheid van die verskeie dele van die regering. Die tesis sal deur middel van 'n analise van die sterk- en swakpunte van SCOPA bepaal of hierdie komitee inderdaad beskou kan word as die streng waghond van die parlement of as die vriendelike "Goofy-hond" van die regering. Belangrike bevindinge steun op die aanname dat SCOPA nie geisoleerd is van party politiek nie, asook dat 'n interafhanklike en 'n komplimentere verhouding tussen die Parlement, Parlementere komitees en die Hoofstuk Nege Onafhanklike Instellings nie gekonsolideerd is nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50554
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