DA opposes security upgrades for Parliament

2016-09-11 19:02
The National Assembly. (Paul Herman, News24)

The National Assembly. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town – The DA on Sunday said it would continue to oppose the proposed new security measures in Parliament.

Earlier, City Press reported that that proposed new measures to boost security in Parliament, including bulletproof glass to separate the public from MPs, had sparked concern.

The DA has slammed the upgrades as "costly and unnecessary" saying it does not support the effective functioning of the Parliament.

"We will not allow the securitisation of Parliament which further separates the people from those who are supposed to serve them," Chief Whip of the DA and MP, John Steenhuisen, said in a statement.

The proposals come in the wake of security breaches in May, when Economic Freedom Fighters MPs were removed from the National Assembly chamber during a question session with President Jacob Zuma.

According to City Press, among the plans being mooted are the erection of a perimeter fence around Parliament, along with full body scanners at all entrances and a drop-down bulletproof glass panel around the public galleries in the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces to protect MPs from members of the public sitting in the gallery.

Steenhuisen said that it has become commonplace for the parliamentary precinct to be locked down ahead of President Jacob Zuma's visits to the legislature.

Undermine democracy

He also raised concerns over barbed wire being put around Parliament as well as unidentified intelligence agencies that are also sometimes present.

"Parliament is a public institution and the parliamentary precinct should not become inaccessible to the public wishing to see the work we do in the legislature. This is the people's Parliament and the people should be able to exercise oversight over its functioning. It should be made as easy as possible and as safe as possible to do."

The DA feels that the upgrades not only undermine democracy but that the cost of the upgrades will threaten the effective functioning of Parliament.

"The parliamentary budget is already overextended, notably through unrestrained and unchecked spending by the Secretary to Parliament, Mr Gengezi Mgidlana, and costly labour disputes involving the same. We cannot allow dysfunction to take root at this institution." 

The party will raise its concerns at the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament which is due to take place on 23 September.

Read more on:    parliament  |  john steenhuisen  |  cape town  |  parliament 2016

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