Mbete says ‘no’ to Malema on Zuma Q&A

2015-01-13 15:42

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National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has turned down a request by the Economic Freedom Fighters to convene a special sitting of the National Assembly before February 12 to allow President Jacob Zuma to answer oral questions.

EFF president Julius Malema wrote to Mbete last Friday asking her to convene Parliament before the February 12 State of the Nation Address so Zuma could answer questions posed by parliamentarians.

In his letter, Malema quoted Rule 111 (6) of the National Assembly rules which states that: Where the order in which questions are put to the president is interrupted at the end of a question session, the next question session to the president starts from the point where the order was so interrupted.”

Malema was referring to a question and answer session on August 21 last year which ended with Zuma leaving the house while EFF MPs shouted “Pay back the money!” – a reference to the Public Protector’s report about spending on Zuma’s Nkandla home.

“We believe that in the spirit of accountability, you should convene the official sitting for the president to answer questions prior to the official opening on the 12th of February 2015.

“Please note that failure to accommodate our request will give us no other option but to insist that President Jacob Zuma answers these questions at the State of the Nation Address on February 12,” wrote Malema.

In her response, Mbete has warned Malema about asking questions during the state of the nation address.

“The state of the nation address on 12 February is not the appropriate forum or occasion for a question session of the National Assembly. You are also specifically reminded that this is a joint sitting, and not a sitting of the National Assembly,” said Mbete.

She wrote that she is advised that Malema’s threat to pose questions to Zuma during the state of the nation address “potentially constitutes intimidation in terms of the powers, privileges and immunities of parliament and provincial legislatures Act.

“I would urge you to desist from such conduct and instead engage constructively in processing matters relating to the functioning of the Assembly.”

She said that as indicated in meetings of the National Assembly’s programme committee, consultations are taking place between her office and the Presidency regarding the matter of questions to the president.

She said once the dates are determined, they will be factored into the programme of the Assembly and the application of the National Assembly Rule 111 (6) and related rules would be dealt with by the programme committee.

The National Assembly rules provide for the president to answer oral questions to the National Assembly once per term.

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