R2K: Who switched off Parliament cameras, called cops?

2014-11-15 14:49

Those behind the public order police's intervention in the National Assembly and the suspension of the Parliamentary TV service must be held accountable, says the Right to Know Campaign (R2K).

"South Africans have the right to know who gave these instructions and who should be held to account for such deeply undemocratic tendencies," said R2K spokesperson Murray Hunter today.

The R2K would write to the whips of the parties in the National Assembly asking for a probe into the matter.

He said the incident reflected a society "where many ordinary people sadly still face exactly these kinds of violations ­­- censorship, silencing, and brutality at the hands of the police".

At a raucous sitting of the House on Thursday, Economic Freedom Fighters MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela refused to leave the podium when she was ordered to do so by House chairperson Cedric Frolick.

Mashabela had called President Jacob Zuma a "thief" over the Grand Inga Hydro Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and refused to withdraw her remarks.

Sergeant-at-Arms Regina Mohlomi unsuccessfully tried to escort her from the podium, and police arrived minutes later and tugged at Mashabela, who could be heard shouting: "I don't want to be touched".

The African National Congress spokesperson in Parliament Moloto Mothapo said the unit was part of the parliamentary security system, rather than riot police.

Hunter said R2K wanted to know who authorised them to enter Parliament, as it considered Speaker Baleka Mbete's assertion that it was under her authority to be "unconvincing".

"The act has significant consequences as it is not only a breach of ... Section 58 of the Constitution - which prohibits arrests, criminal or civil procedure on members of parliament for what they say in parliament - but has the effect of irrevocably undermining Parliament as a democratic institution in the eyes of citizens."

R2K also wanted to know who shut off the cameras and suspended the Parliamentary television service.

"There has been no credible explanation for the cutting of Parliament's live television feed, and no explanation can justify it," said Hunter.

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