Parliament is chaos: Zuma

President Jacob Zuma has defended the actions of the speaker of Parliament to forcefully remove some politicians from the house, calling their behaviour undemocratic.

In an interview with the SABC, the president took a swipe at members of the Economic Freedom Front for their behaviour, which has led to some MP’s being forced out of a sitting.

Parliament’s rules sub-committee is considering amendments to existing rules on how to handle disruptions during sittings of the National Assembly.

One of the proposals provides for the removal and immediate temporary suspension of a member of Parliament for disruptive behaviour.  It is also looking at dress code.

“You should start with the members being taken out,” Zuma said when asked if Parliament should be setting an example of non violence rather than incite it by having members forcefully removed.

“When the speaker says sit down, you sit down. When the speaker says go out because you are misbehaving, you go out.”

“Those who are being taken out, are making Parliament impossible to run. That tells you the psychology that you have – unfortunately those politicians did say, when they were campaigning – we are going to change Parliament,” the president said.

He said that they are taken out because they do not want Parliament to function.

“It is the politicians who sit there and point their finger at the speaker, they are not sitting down, they speak before the speaker gives them permission to speak, it’s chaos.”

A fight broke out during South African president Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address in February.

More than 330 police officers were used to forcefully remove the Economic Freedom Fighters MPs out of the National Assembly after interrupting the president’s speech, as the country looked on in horror.

On Wednesday, the Democratic lliance (DA) said in a statement, that arresting Members of Parliament (MPs) for doing their work is at odds with the Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers.

The dictates of Section 58 read with Section 71 of the Constitution stipulate that Members of both Houses of Parliament are not “liable to…arrest…for anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the [NA or NCOP] or any of its committees.”

The political party noted that the Western Cape High Court ruled, in May 2015, that Section 11 of the Act is “inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid to the extent that it permits a member to be arrested for conduct protected by sections 58(1)(b) and 71(1)(b) of the Constitution.”

Therefore, Section 11 in its current incarnation explicitly undermines the ability and duty of elected officials to speak truth to power.

The misapplication of this section by the Presiding Officers effectively criminalised the work being carried out by Members of Parliament by speaking truth to power as is their constitutional mandate, the DA argued.

Section 11 of the Act in its current form states that:

“A person who creates or takes part in any disturbance in the precincts while Parliament or a House or committee is meeting, may be arrested and removed from the precincts, on the order of the Speaker or the Chairperson or a person designated by the Speaker or Chairperson, by a staff member or a member of the security service.”

“Pursuant to the Western Cape High Court’s ruling, we believe that this is unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, a vexatious ANC in Parliament, through the Speaker and Presiding Officers of Parliament, subsequently appealed the judgment,’ the DA said.

“Therefore, tomorrow in the Constitutional Court, the DA will argue – in its heads of argument – that if Section 11 of the Act is left unchallenged, there is every possibility that the Executive will continue to interfere in what should be the business of Parliament which is inconsistent with the doctrine of the separation of powers,” DA MP, James Selfe, said.

More on South Africa

Who will be South Africa’s next president?

Is South Africa’s government racist?

Biggest fist fights in parliament

Must Read

Partner Content

Show comments

Trending Now

Follow Us

Parliament is chaos: Zuma