Sisulu wags finger at hecklers

2013-06-11 20:54
Parliament (Dan Calderwood, News24)

Parliament (Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Cape Town - There is a need to clamp down on "unbecoming" behaviour by MPs in the National Assembly, Speaker Max Sisulu warned on Tuesday.

"Lately, it appears that at different times the mood of the House has strayed quite far from the flexibility, accommodation and balance that ideally ought to exist," he said, opening debate on Parliament's 2012/13 budget.

Sisulu said he would take the matter up with party whips. Angry exchanges, loud heckling and numerous calls to order have characterised several debates in the House this year.

"Regrettably, there clearly is a need to clamp down on unbecoming conduct in the Chamber. This is a matter that I wish to take up with the party whips in the coming weeks."

Sisulu also noted an "unprecedented number of challenges" to the rulings of presiding officers.

"Not only in the House, but also in the courts."

He said MPs should heed warnings, by the courts, of the politicisation of the judiciary, and the dangers of drawing it into political disputes.

"This is a warning we should well heed to ensure that the foundations of our democracy remain strong and each arm is able to fulfil its constitutional roles and mandate," Sisulu said.

Opposition parties have, in the past year, launched court challenges to rulings on the scheduling of debates, including spending on President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence and a call for a Zuma no-confidence debate.

Parliament to goes digital

Sisulu further advised MPs that from July, Parliament was poised to go paperless.

"Parliament will also be launching a digital application called 'My Parliament'. In future, members will receive their parliamentary orders and daily papers electronically.

"Not only will we be saving the environment, by saving trees, we will also cut back on tons and tons of paper."

He warned them to finish their work before the end of the term, saying he wanted to see a "seamless transition" from the current fourth Parliament to the fifth.

"I wish to emphasise that any outstanding work... must be completed before we rise at the end of this term. If need be... Friday and evening sittings will be scheduled. And weekends, if push comes to a shove," Sisulu said, to apparently nervous laughter from some MPs.

Parliament's 2013/12 budget totals R1.87bn.

According to the 2013 Estimates of National Expenditure, tabled earlier this year by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, R453.8m of this total is earmarked for members' remuneration.

- SAPA
Read more on:    pravin gordhan  |  jacob zuma  |  max sisulu  |  cape town  |  parliament 2013
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