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Now that the election is over we need to promote an understanding of  how our parliament really works and how the ruling party has managed it since 1994. Some of the distortions that crept in will have to be corrected to ensure accountability and that the system works democratically. Let us begin by tracing the experiences of a community activist in a small town somewhere in the north of SA. Having made her mark as a community leader she is chosen by her party to be on the list for parliament and is duly elected. On arrival in Cape Town she is allocated an apartment and duly sworn in as an MP. Her chief whip allocates her to a portfolio committee and the relevant study group of her party. She then has to attend the weekly meetings of her party caucus and every session of plenary, usually three afternoons a week. Back home, there may be a constituency office with an administrative secretary who has to deal with all inquiries and cases as they arise. The MP will be kept informed but i...

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