ANC slams ruling on Helen Suzman statement

2013-06-11 15:49

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A ruling in the Western Cape legislature that saw an ANC MPL ordered out of the chamber for refusing to retract a statement about Helen Suzman is outrageous, ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga has said.

He was outraged by the DA’s “undemocratic and bullying tactics” in the legislature.

The opposition party was trying to “illegalise” the expression of views that disputed its version of history as told in its “Know Your DA” campaign, he charged.

During a debate on employment equity last month, ANC MPL Max Ozinsky reportedly said Suzman had “wanted to kill us”, national daily, The Times, reported yesterday.

Suzman belonged to the DA’s predecessor parties, and for years was a lone voice in Parliament, vehemently opposed to the government of the day’s apartheid policies.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille objected to Ozinsky’s charge and asked deputy speaker Piet Pretorius to rule on whether it was parliamentary.

On Thursday, Pretorius ruled that Ozinsky’s claim was unsubstantiated and could open the door to tit-for-tat accusations from across the aisle of the legislature.

“This statement goes beyond the scope of acceptable freedom of speech, is therefore not parliamentary, and needs to be withdrawn,” The Times quoted him as saying.

Ozinsky apparently refused to withdraw his statement and was ordered to leave the chamber.

The ANC on Thursday staged a walkout of the provincial legislature sitting. It claimed Pretorius’ ruling was biased.

Motshekga said Pretorius’ ruling set a “disturbing precedent”.

“The ruling undermines the constitutional role of the legislature, which is a forum for robust and lively debates on important matters.”

The ruling also “criminalised” any challenge to the DA’s “sanitised version of history”, as told in its campaign, he said.

“What is next? Is the legislature now going to create legislation that makes it illegal for anyone to speak critically of the atrocities committed in the past?” Motshekga asked.

His office supported the ANC legislature caucus in its challenge of “this outrageous ruling”.

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