Absentee MPs to be fined R1 000 a day - rules committee

2016-08-16 18:30
MPs in Parliament. (File, Jenni Evans, News24)

MPs in Parliament. (File, Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town – Members of Parliament will be fined R1 000 a day if they are absent from committee meetings for three days without reason.

This was one of the guidelines passed by the National Assembly rules committee on Tuesday, following the adoption of new rules by the institution.

The new rules were approved in May, just before Parliament went on recess for elections.

A total of 211 MPs voted in their favour, and 61 against. They came into effect immediately, but would only be tested once plenaries resume in Parliament.

The Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, presented the guidelines, which were mostly agreed on, to the rules committee on Tuesday.

"A fine of R1 000 is determined for each day of absence. The NA rules committee will, from Parliament to Parliament, determine the fine," the committee resolved.

Rule 39(1) of the new rulebook states: "A member who is absent from three or more consecutive meetings of a committee referred to in Rule 38(1) without his or her party's approval may be fined an amount to be determined by the Rules Committee from time to time for each day of absence. (2) The Speaker must inform the member without delay of the imposition of a fine in terms of this rule."

Dealing with insults

Sanctioned MPs, however, could appeal to the disciplinary committee for matters relating to the fines, it was also decided on Tuesday.

"Has it ever worked?" wondered ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu during the meeting.

The committee also approved guidelines for notices of motions, motions of condolences and motions without notice.

This was mostly to give minority parties an opportunity to participate more. 

Earlier in the meeting, the DA's Natasha Mazzone raised concerns over what she called insults by rules subcommittee chairperson Richard Mdakane during the May 26 sitting.

This was after the DA had staged a walkout in the last rules committee meeting.

"I was told that I had misbehaved, was not being constructive and brought across revolutionary tendencies. To have been insulted the way I was by the chairperson of the committee was unacceptable."

Speaker Baleka Mbete called for DA and ANC chief whips to resolve the matter, and they both agreed.

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