Parliamentary committees : strategy for improved information use
Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
South Africa’s ten year old democracy puts great emphasis on being a participatory government, where citizens are able to engage with the policy and legislative process. An important aspect of this is the role played by Parliament which is not only the place where citizens are able to make their voices heard, but is also an important mechanism in keeping the government in line with the views and needs of the “people”. Its role of oversight (of the government departments) is a critical one in keeping the democracy intact, and an important part of this is their ability to access and use information from a wide range of sources. The purpose of this assignment was to consider the current use of information in Parliament and identify the flaws in the management and use of information by Parliamentary Committees. A number of questions are posed, questioning whether the current management and use of information allows Parliamentary Committees to fulfill their obligations in terms of the Constitution. In exploring these questions I have provided background to the role that NGOs have played in the past in South Africa, with specific reference to their relationship to Parliament/government and their expertise in the area of sustainable development. I have explained the role of Parliament (and more specifically the Parliamentary Committees in South Africa), as envisaged in the Constitution, as well as the problems facing Parliament in fulfilling these roles. I also indicated the ways in which civil society organizations could assist Parliament in fulfilling its role as effectively as possible. After considering the various theories of information and knowledge management a model was built on which the current information behaviors of Parliamentarians, specifically with regard to their work in the Committees, could be evaluated. Various key problems were identified and elaborated on. A strategy was outlined to address some of these problems.