Reflecting on Parliamentary Democracy and PMG - Foundation Office South Africa
The Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG), an information service, was established in 1995 as a partnership be-tween Black Sash, Human Rights Committee and Idasa with the aim of providing a type of Hansard for the proceed-ings of the more than fifty South African Parliamentary Committees for these three advocacy organisations. This was because there is no official record publicly available of the committee proceedings - the engine room of Parliament - and this type of information is needed by social justice organisations to lobby the Parliament of South Africa on pieces of legislation, matters of democratic processes and parliamentary oversight of the executive.
Committees are fundamental arenas for ‘state of government’ insights, decision-making, and power. Without PMG, there would be no consistent watch over these committees, their documents, what is promised and planned, what is actually achieved and the reasons if unachieved, how this is overseen and how Ministers are or are not held accountable.
PMG became a fully-fledged independent NGO in July 2009. It empowers civil society and citizens to intervene, defend and get involved. PMG have recorded many successes over the years, including assisting the Zondo Commission and having our work cited and relied on by civil society organisation in court matters.
The PMG website (https://pmg.org.za/) was set up at the beginning of 1998 to make the information generated available to a wider audience. Presently this is the only source for this type of information. The PMG committee reports, and other documents provide the public with an insight into the Parliament of South Africa and its daily activity. Importantly it provides a window into the performance of each government department and public entity over which each parliamentary committee has oversight.
PMG also underpins the website The People’s Assembly (https://pa.org.za/), launched in 2014. The People’s Assembly website allows better scrutiny of South Africa’s elected representatives. A function called “RepLocator” allows one to find out information about representatives and constituency offices. The People's Assembly delivers not only information about individual representatives but also shows what each Member of Parliament has been saying in Parliament.
About the measure
2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the PMG website. To celebrate this milestone, PMG will invite 50 stakeholders (PMG board, staff, funders, partners, founding members, PMG monitors, journalists, parliamentary staff and Members of Parliament) to a panel discussion on the theme of “Reflecting on Parliamentary Democracy and PMG”.