No disruptions or jamming devices expected during Sona – Parliament

2016-02-01 19:27
Dan Calderwood, News24

Dan Calderwood, News24

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Cape Town – Parliament is ready to enforce the new joint rules adopted last year during this year’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), but no disruptions were expected, it said on Monday.

President Jacob Zuma will deliver his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, February 11.

Addressing media during a workshop in Parliament on the rules, secretary Gengezi Mgidlana said preparations were in place for this year’s Sona and they were quite confident that the rules would be followed by all as they had “honourable members”.

These include new joint rules, adopted on November 26 last year in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, on the removal of disruptive Members of Parliament from the house.

Last year, Economic Freedom Fighters MPs were forcefully removed from the National Assembly during the Sona when they called for Zuma to pay back a portion of the money spent on his Nkandla homestead.

Parliament then introduced new rules to deal with disruptions, which included the employment of Parliamentary Protection Services, sometimes referred to by MPs as “bouncers”.

Mgidlana said Parliament was ready for this year’s Sona and that they had not employed any extra security for the event.

“We still have the same complement of staff that we had. And of course, we continuously train our staff like any other institution in this regard. So there is no [special] recruitment that we have done specifically for Sona,” he told journalists.

He said they had planned for a successful event, free of any eventualities.

Advocate Modibedi Phindela said they were confident that the rules Parliament had in place would be more than sufficient to deal with any eventualities.

Jamming devices

Parliament was also not expecting any kind of jamming devices to be used during the sitting. Mgidlana said they had not requested the use of any such devices at all.

Signal jamming devices were used during last year’s Sona. Following objections of journalists and opposition parties, the signal was restored.

Mgidlana said they were not expecting any signal jamming devices to be used this year. “The key issue is that we have to do things within the law, and in this instance [that is] what we are expecting from all,” he said.

He said there had been assurances that the 2015 debacle would not be repeated.

He said they had learnt various lessons from last year’s Sona, one of which was to build better relationships internally.

“There is nothing that beats that. To engage with parties, and parties have been engaging within themselves. And that process led to the product that we have now, which are the rules which have been amended.”

He said the process to the new rules had fostered consensus among all parties about how they should conduct themselves and how they wanted the administration to support them.

Mgidlana also said Parliament and National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union members were keeping to the agreement signed last year following a strike by workers.

Read more on:    cape town  |  politics  |  state of the nation 2016

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