Parliament condemns Right2Know demo

2011-02-16 16:53

Cape Town - Parliament warned on Wednesday it will not hesitate to ensure that the law takes its course should there be a repeat of Tuesday's silent demonstration during a committee meeting.

"Parliament strongly condemns the violation of rules of conduct governing public participation in its work by representatives of the Right2Know non-governmental coalition who [on Tuesday] held a demonstration at a meeting of the ad-hoc committee on the protection of information bill," it said in a statement.

The conduct of the demonstrators was "extremely disrespectful" to the institution and undermined public representatives and the ethos of a people's parliament which encouraged and welcomed public participation in its work, it said.

During the meeting, a campaign delegation covered there their faces with masks depicting State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and silently held up placards reading "Cwele, Minister of Secrets!"

Parliament said, by law, demonstrations at parliament were prohibited, unless permission for such demonstrations had been granted in accordance with the law.

"The demonstration [on Tuesday] by members of Right2Know was particularly unseemly."

All members of the public and civil society organisations had been afforded the opportunity to make their views heard about the bill.

Through this process, submissions to the committee and, generally, public input on the bill had been encouraged and received.

"To disregard the democratic avenues open to the group to make themselves heard on matters before parliament in favour of undermining the dignity of the institution through illegal acts is unacceptable and worthy of unmitigated condemnation."

Such acts would not be tolerated and parliament would ensure that the full might of the law was applied to protect the institution and its members in the conduct of their work.

"If such grave misconduct as was displayed [on Tuesday] occurs again, Parliament will not hesitate to ensure that the law takes its course," it said.

Read more on:    siyabonga cwele  |  media  |  legislation

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