The article by Kevin Malunga (ANC must make Parliament accountable to the people, June 27) powerfully reinforces a point I have made elsewhere in the print media.

Mr Malunga writes that "the parties' proportional showing in the election determines the number of seats they get. This results in MPs being more accountable to their party than to the electorate".

This is indeed so and sadly it is a fundamental problem that is detracting from the proper working of Parliament. In fact it goes to the very heart of what is seriously wrong with SA's politics.

Everyone knows that this is so, yet there are so few voices being raised to remedy the failure. Mr Malunga's intervention is therefore as timely as it is necessary. I hope that others, political analysts in particular and the media generally, will also take up the issue so that it is driven to the very top of the national agenda.

Section 42(3) of the constitution states clearly that the "National Assembly is elected to represent the people and to ensure government by the people under the constitution". Sadly this is not what is visible to the nation.

What is very visible is the representation of the party by MPs. When contentious issues arise the ruling party enforces a three line whip and MPs are dragooned to vote as the party dictates. Anyone who dares to act on his or her conscience faces disciplinary procedures. MPs are not a herd of sheep being corralled by sheepdogs.

It is precisely for this reason that the Congress of the People has been calling for a change in the electoral law to accommodate a constituency based and proportional system that would be immeasurably more empowering to the citizens of our country.

Parliament, in the manner in which it is functioning at present, is certainly not adequately reflective of public and social concerns, and the even greater failure by Parliament to demand rigorous executive accountability puts its very legitimacy in doubt.

The ruling party must indeed reflect on this matter, as Mr Malunga is asking the policy conference to do, so as to ensure that henceforth it makes Parliament "fully accountable to the people" in line with the constitution. This failure, as is apparent to all of us, has spawned endemic corruption, incompetence, sloppiness, futile and fruitless expenditure, failed delivery, job losses, and a multitude of socioeconomic problems. If the ruling party does not heed this call every other decision it takes will be rendered futile.

So long as the National Assembly fails to discharge its essential responsibility by not primarily representing "the people" and not ensuring "government by the people under the constitution", our future will remain bleak and the misery of the people which is already intolerable will become completely unbearable.

Mosiuoa Lekota

President, Congress of the People