Parliament rules get a revamp

2015-11-20 19:31
Dan Calderwood, News24

Dan Calderwood, News24

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Cape Town – Parliament’s set of new and revamped rules will be presented to the National Assembly next week.

The institution has been working on implementing a new rule book since the fourth democratic Parliament and, on Friday, the rules committee adopted the 15 chapters in principle.

The rules were adopted, even though political parties differed on some of the issues, including motions without notice and time allocations for ministers' responses.

Some parties called for ministers to be policed on the number of times they actually went to answer questions in Parliament.

The EFF argued for the rules on motions without notice to remain the same.

Motions without notice in Parliament have been a bone of contention between political parties.

Under the new guidelines, motions without notice will have to be submitted to Speaker Baleka Mbete for approval before they can be read in the National Assembly.

The motion would fall away only if five parties objected to it. Under the current rule, a motion falls away if one party objects to it.

'We must pass rules for the future'

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told the speaker on Friday that the current system was perfect and should not be messed with.

"We must not pass rules for the present, we must pass rules for [the] future. You are going to be opposition come 2019. The criteria are perfect. You are solving a problem that’s not there."

Other contentious issues were the dress code, which the EFF have objected to fiercely, and the hiring of new Parliament protection services in August.

On Friday, DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen suggested adding questions without notice to Parliament’s programme.

He said the scripted answers they mostly received from ministers were old. Questions without notice would allow for a more open, unscripted exchange between the executive and MPs.

The full rules will be recommended to the House on Wednesday, with some of the contentious issues highlighted.

Mbete, who chairs the rules committee, commended the completion of the process. The rules are expected to be passed, with the ruling party using its majority.

"It is the first time in the 21 years of our democracy [that we have] reflected on each and every rule, that’s no small feat,"Mbete said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2015

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