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Right of Reply: Mgidlana’s travels are part of his duties as Secretary to Parliament?

Right of Reply: Mgidlana’s travels are part of his duties as Secretary to Parliament?

One reads the article by Marianne Merten: The world’s still a much-travelled oyster for Secretary Mgidlana (Daily Maverick March 10 2017) with great disappointment. The article essentially says when the Secretary to Parliament is doing his job, everyone must be alarmed. In this whole tirade Merten misses the point about her own bias and lack of objectivity on the matter. By THEMBANI MBADLANYANA.

Let me clear up some mysteries for Merten. Gengezi Mgidlana, the Secretary to Parliament, as an accounting officer, meets with counterparts in the Executive (Presidency, Treasury, DIRCO, DPW, SAPS, provincial and local government officials and Provincial Secretaries) where necessary and anywhere in South Africa in the performance of his duties. This is no surprise or rocket science, its logical and it goes with the job. First mystery solved.

Let’s unravel mystery number two.  The Secretary to Parliament participates in multilateral structures such as the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), Pan African Parliament (PAP) and International Parliamentary Union (IPU). These meetings are hosted at headquarters and rotate between countries. They usually have a specific component of Secretaries-General (accounting officers of parliaments). Therefore, it is a no-brainer and it should not be a matter of concern that, now and again, the Secretary to Parliament travels to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meetings in Geneva, Switzerland. This is part of his job.

More so, the South African Parliament receives delegations and reciprocates these as part of parliamentary diplomacy at the appropriate levels. Mystery number three unravelled.

The strategy of Parliament says that the above shall be done in the context of the fifth Parliament’s strategy. Merten does not seem to get this in spite of reading our strategy and receiving answers from her questions. It’s not clear whether you refuse to see the logic or you are genuinely lost. The advice we can give you is perhaps to talk to our spokesperson or request an interview with the accounting officer. Mystery number four solved.

And yes, in performing his duties the Secretary to Parliament travels using the policy that applies to all, it has always been there, it was never changed or amended to suite the incumbent. That means where necessary he must have a car to move from point A to B, he must be in a plane, he must sleep in a hotel. All this is done according to the same policy that applies to everyone and given due recognition to different levels and approved cost containment measures. I hope mystery number five is solved.

Mystery number six, the Secretary to Parliament has deputies, house Secretaries for the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, and there are divisional managers. All these colleagues are guided by our strategic plan, the annual performance plan, the budget and their performance agreements. The Secretary to Parliament and these officials travel on official duty and take the necessary precautionary measures that are not reported or made known to you. But should you request information it may be provided to. You did not request it.

Should you be interested in the substance of the engagements you are more than welcome to approach Parliament through the spokesperson.

Since you have an interest in Mgidlana’s career, you should know that he worked for eight years serving three presidents as a diplomat assigned to the NEPAD programme of the African Union. He performed this job, in our books, with distinction and led the completion of a continental blueprint for development referred to as Agenda 2063. That job involved extensive travelling on AU and UN business.

So, let’s lose the distortions and exaggeration, it’s nauseating.

This level of mediocrity in reporting is not needed, it betrays what is otherwise a critical function in a democracy. I hope that this clears that mist that has caused you not to see clearly. Otherwise, pursuing this line puts you in a special category of being an active news maker and not the news reporter. DM

Thembani Mbadlanyana is Executive Assistant (Research) in the Office of the Secretary to Parliament

Photo: Secretary to Parliament – Mr Gengezi Mgidlana (Photo: SA Parliament)


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