The ANC has thrown its weight behind an electronic radio frequency and biometric tagging system to curb MP absenteeism in parliament.
Parliament has proposed a combination of two technologies – radio frequency identification (RFID) and biometrics (fingerprint) – to monitor the attendance of Members of Parliament at sittings of the houses of parliament and committee meetings.
RFID automatically detects MPs when they enter or exit a chamber or a committee room. Biometrics is limited to fingerprint recognition and requires MPs to register their attendance using their thumbs.
According to the proposal, the chief whips of political parties would be able to record the attendance information of members of their parties.
The electronic monitoring system will replace the current manual system, which requires MPs to fill in attendance slips.
According to a BusinessDay report, the DA chief whip, “Watty” Watson said the DA caucus rejected the idea, saying that its MPs are not sheep or cattle.
“We are senior citizens who have been elected to Parliament by the people of SA and for us to be treated like sheep or cattle being counted is unacceptable,” he said.
ANC Chief whip spokesman, Moloto Mothapo, said that the new electronic monitoring system, together with the leave and attendance policy, will ensure that MPs across all political parties are more accountable and faithful to their constitutional obligations.
“It is therefore disappointing that the DA would want to frustrate such progressive interventions by parliament,” Mothapo said.
The office of the chief whip said that it would impress upon parliament’s presiding officers to proceed with the implementation of the system even without the DA’s buy-in.
“The entire parliament cannot afford to be held to ransom by one party whose leadership believes the party’s role in this institution is simply to oppose everything all the time,” Mothapo said.
The introduction of the system is scheduled for the start of the fifth Parliament after next year’s election, according to BDlive, at a cost less than R500,000.