South African parliament. CC image courtesy of Kaishu Tai.
The system was proposed in a briefing document by the South African parliament’s IT department.
According to a report by Business Day Live, the electronic monitoring system will cost less than ZAR500,000 (US$50,000) and will include the use of both fingerprint recognition, radio frequency identification (RFI), and scanners in committee rooms in order to record attendance.
Farmers often make use of RFI to keep track of their livestock’s movement.
Watson rejected the proposal for an electronic monitoring system utilising fingerprint recognition and RFI.
“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,” Business Day Live quoted Watson as saying.
The proposed system will monitor MPs’ attendance in both parliamentary houses as well as within parliamentary committees, with parliament seeking support for the system from various political parties.
The reason for this suggestion is due to television footage showing empty benches in parliament as well as processes failing to reach conclusion on critical legislation.
Furthermore, the electronic monitoring system was also suggested after the DA staged a walkout during last week’s vote on the Labour Relations Amendment Bill.
This occurred after the DA realised the African National Congress (ANC) did not have enough members present in parliament for a quorum. The DA’s walk-out ensured the bill could not be voted on.
Stone Sizani, the ANC’s new chief whip, attacked the DA for its walkout and called it shameful. Sizani then promised to find reasons as to why the ANC MPs were absent for the Labour Relations Amendment Bill vote.