No to physical removal from Parliament - EFF

2015-02-05 05:30
(File: Twitter)

(File: Twitter)

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Cape Town - The EFF on Wednesday made an impassioned plea for a ban on forcibly removing MPs from Parliament, unless they had themselves become violent.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said dragging MPs from the National Assembly was an attempt to settle political differences through physical force, and redolent of the mind-set of colonisers who used violence to subjugate black people.

"We as the EFF are saying no to physical removal. It is not justified under any other conditions except [when] that person themselves is being physical," he told Parliament's rules committee.

"If there is physical violence then there must be a physical response.

"But because you said something, like 'President Zuma is a thief' for example, and then you must be physically removed for what you said with your mouth?

"It is resolving differences with physical violence... It must never happen as a matter of principle, whether it is police or sergeant at arms or anyone. No one must ever be touched for what they said."

After citing Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko and philosopher Frantz Fanon to motivate his disdain of force, he concluded that democrats should at all times rely on dialogue even if this resulted in deadlock on the assembly floor.

"We must be patient to appeal all the time to logic, to reason, and so on."

But exasperated MPs from other parties said the issue had already been settled with an agreement reached in a sub-committee.

It states that the Speaker should be allowed to ask the sergeant at arms to ask the parliamentary protections services to remove an MP who ignores a ruling to leave the chamber.

The FF Plus's Corné Mulder weighed in: "If one party talks alone, the rest of us can't talk, so that is why there are rules, and if you don't stick to the rules, then rule 53 (a) says 'out you go' and I support that."

DA MP Natasha Michael said it had been agreed that police or soldiers would never be sent into Parliament but instead the legislature would rely on protection services trained in conflict resolution.

The ANC's Vincent Smith said: "We can't have one person hold the entire country to ransom while he or she negotiates with the Speaker.

"I will not accept a situation where they come with anything short of saying that individual, or group of individuals, must leave the house, deal with it somewhere else and come back."

Muting

Speaker Baleka Mbete, who chaired the meeting, said the issue should be taken back to the sub-committee conducting an extensive review of parliamentary rules, for another round of discussion.

The EFF also objected to the Speaker holding the right to order that the microphone nearest to disruptive MP be switched off, and to cut the television feed from the National Assembly if a session become chaotic and she adjourned it.

On the second issue, they found support from DA Chief Whip John Steenhuizen who said this could be seen as curtailing on freedom of speech.

The ruling party has been at pains to explain that a revision of parliamentary rules has been in the pipeline for more than two years, and therefore predates the formation of the EFF.

But several changes, including plans to introduce a parliamentary dress code, have been seen as aimed at the left-wing party who have threatened to confront President Jacob Zuma over the R246m upgrade to his Nkandla home when he delivers the State of the Nation address next Thursday.

EFF MPs were suspended from the legislature for weeks after shouting at Zuma to repay the money in question time in the National Assembly in August, and one was dragged from the chamber in November by police after calling the president a thief.

Ndlozi and EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu on Wednesday also argued that the Speaker should not hold the right to summarily suspend an MP who misbehaved in the House.

"Everybody needs to be treated with procedural fairness before they are dismissed. Here you have put the cart before the horse, for what reason I have no idea, except for political objectives," said Ndlozi.

"We all know it will never be members of the ruling party."

Read more on:    ff plus  |  anc  |  eff  |  cape town  |  parliament 2015  |  politics

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