Few things are more remarkable than president’s question time in the national assembly. Jacob Zuma, fundamentally compromised on a wide variety of fronts, holds court for two hours every three months, in deference to the constitutional demand that the legislature hold the executive to account. Alas, to no avail. It is, perhaps, the ultimate pretence — a game, essentially. And there is only ever one winner: Zuma. When it is all done, inevitably you are left feeling defeated, as if he got away with something — which, of course, he did. But you are not quite sure how. Questions were put. Answers were given. And yet, it’s as if question time never took place at all.Yes, the rules are stacked. Questions are submitted two weeks prior to the occasion, robbing the exchange of spontaneity and relevance. The speaker rarely, if ever, actually regulates the president’s replies — the fact that words come out of his mouth seems to be enough to satisfy the demand that he “answer” the political puz...

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