The Presidential Years

When ministers were not answering questions properly or weren’t there to answer questions he wrote to them very critically because he used to ask the chief whip, ‘Who are these ministers?’ And he would actually write to them saying, ‘You must respect the questions’.

Now we had a lot of respect for him and because we didn’t want to put pressure on him, there was no president’s question time. It only came in once Thabo became president and we put it in the rules. We explained to the other parties, ‘We think it is better not to have the president’s question time, if you have specific questions we can try and see of ways that government will answer them.’ It was just a general ANC view that we should ease the pressure on him and it was accepted. It wasn’t that he was avoiding it, I don’t know if he ever realised that we had made a special deal for him. This was his attitude towards Parliament, the sort of respect he paid to it. Because it was the first time, he never asked me why he was not answering questions, I’ve not said anything and I don’t know whether Stof or any of the others said anything, but it was discussed in the Rules Committee when we were discussing president’s question time and

once he left and Thabo came in, we introduced question time for the president properly with fixed times.

Frene Ginwala