Parly won’t shield JZ

2014-08-31 15:00

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Parliament is reviewing its security policy following the disruption last week by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs, but there won’t be any amendment of its rules to protect President Jacob Zuma.

Parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs confirmed to City Press that the security policy was under review.

“Yes, it is. The review has been ongoing and the first leg is now complete. It’s an intricate process that relates to other security apparatus of state,” he said.

Jacobs, however, could not go into detail about the nature of the review and how Parliament plans to beef up security, saying it was a sensitive issue.

“All I can say is we need to ensure that the [security] policy is responsive, enabling and relevant to the circumstances,” he said.

Parliament’s security policy was drawn up in 2004. In terms of the policy, security responsibilities in Parliament are jointly shared by the Parliamentary Protection Services and the SA Police Service.

The protection service deals with physical security within the precinct, the protection of employees, technical surveillance and document security.

The police are responsible for closed-circuit television and control centre electronic monitoring, access control, perimeter protection, chamber security, venue protection and parking control.

Members’ conduct is governed by the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act.

It was agreed at a meeting of chief whips this week that the act and all other rules relating to members’ conduct were sufficient and did not need to be amended after last week’s drama.

Those who were at the meeting said all parties agreed that, while incidents such as MPs banging on tables and other rowdy behaviour should be frowned upon, the existing rules are enough to deal with such incidents.

This agreement goes against demands by some in the ANC who wanted the rules of Parliament tightened to protect the president and to grant the Speaker more power, including the power to fire misbehaving MPs.

In terms of the rules, an MP who is flagged for misconduct can be suspended with or without pay for a period not exceeding 14 days.

Speaker Baleka Mbete has told the EFF to give reasons why its MPs should not be suspended.

But EFF leader Julius Malema is going to court to seek an interdict that will bar the Speaker from suspending him and other EFF MPs.

ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani confirmed that all parties had agreed the existing rules were sufficient. “There is nothing wrong with the rules, it’s the behaviour of political parties and MPs we are worried about,” he said.

“It’s the behaviour of individuals; that’s why there’s no need for the Speaker to clamp down.”

Some of the chief whips were also said to have been critical of the press conference organised by security cluster ministers on Tuesday to discuss how to improve security in Parliament.

Sizani said the DA had tried to raise this issue as a formal matter for consideration, but it could not be discussed because the agenda for the chief whips’ forum was finalised the week before and that matter was not on the agenda.

But it will review its security policy to avoid a repeat of #PayBack

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