Mahlobo not to blame for minions jamming

2015-03-04 21:03
Chaos in Parliament (Rodger Bosch, AP)

Chaos in Parliament (Rodger Bosch, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Security Minister David Mahlobo on Wednesday brushed aside an opposition call to resign over the jamming of the cellphone signal during the State of the Nation address, saying he could not be held responsible for an operational error.

Mahlobo told the National Assembly that since he had not ordered the signal blocking a question from Democratic Alliance intelligence spokesperson on whether he was prepared to quit was therefore "irrelevant".

"There was no executive authority... we have indicated that in terms of operational efficiency an error occurred, we regretted the error and on that basis we indicated our apologies that there was no intentional disruption of signal," Mahlobo said.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, who likened the State Security Agency to East Germany's notorious Stasi, insisted that the minister bore ultimate responsibility and accused him of resorting to the "rogue official defence".

Mahlobo retorted: "One issue that we have indicated to all South Africans is an operational error and we ministers don't get involved in those."

When further pressed by Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald, Mahlobo said there was a difference between executive and administrative responsibility and the opposition failed to understand it.

"It is understandable that some people are not understanding the role of the executive if you have never been in the executive."

The question session was dominated by the incident that prompted media houses to seek a court order that there would not be a repeat.

Referring to that case, both Mahlobo and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa repeatedly invoked the sub judice rule as a reason not to answer a raft of questions from the opposition on the tumultuous opening of Parliament.

This included a demand for assurances that police would not again be deployed in the National Assembly to remove MPs, which saw the Economic Freedom Fighters' Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told to leave the chamber after he repeatedly exclaimed: "You beat us up!" and refused to withdraw the remark.

Sub judice

Mahlobo initially asked that Maynier's question, plus another, put by the EFF's Sipho Mbatha, concerning the signal issue, stand over to a future date.

House Chair Thoko Didiza told members she had received a letter from Mahlobo concerning "certain matters" that were before the courts and said the rules of Parliament allowed that "the questions should stand over".

But opposition MPs prevailed after consultations on the matter.

However, earlier Ramaphosa said he had received legal advice not to speak on the issue as it was sub judice, and stuck to it.

"Hearings in relation to this matter will be happening in our courts in the next few days and for that reason I feel constrained to answer the question because the matters are before court," he said.

Ramaphosa was responding to a written question, posed by DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, on when Ramaphosa was made aware of the intended use of signal jammers, and other additional security measures, used during President Jacob Zuma's 12 February address.

Free flow

He said: "As a matter of principle, I believe that it is correct we should have a free flow of information [in Parliament] and the incident that occurred here... should not be allowed and should not happen again.

"As regards the specific issues raised... I will be prepared to answer those once the legal cases have been concluded."

Ramaphosa repeated this answer three times, in response to follow-up questions.

This saw DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen accuse the deputy president of "hiding behind" the sub judice rule.

"What has essentially happened here today is the deputy president has been allowed to hide behind a spurious interpretation of the sub judice rule, and the opposition has been denied the opportunity to exercise oversight over him," he said.

Earlier, Steenhuisen appealed to Speaker Baleka Mbete that members of the House "should be allowed to refer to a matter before a court, but should not be allowed to discuss the merits of a matter before the court".

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  mmusi maimane  |  cape town  |  parliament 2015

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
35 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.