Now that the buzz generated by the president’s state of the nation address is over we can reflect on how parliament is supposed to work to do the job set out in the constitution. As we shall see, parliament is actually a complex institution, much more so than the conventional view that it is a place where politicians squabble about bits of legislation and engage in nasty personal attacks. In the end, we are all affected by decisions taken in parliament, so we had better keep an eye on what goes on there.

First, let me concede that a faction in Luthuli House tried to capture parliament recently by prematurely nominating some questionable individuals as chairs of portfolio committees. To some extent, they were thwarted by other ANC people, though they still got certain positions. This incident nevertheless revealed how the ANC goes about the business of deployment.

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