Parliament committee erred, ConCourt hears

2013-03-28 14:26

The failure of Parliament’s programme committee to schedule a motion of no confidence for debate was unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court has heard.

“What we are seeking is a declaratory that what occurred, which was the failure to schedule a motion of no confidence as lodged on November 18 for debate within a reasonable time, was inconsistent with the Constitution,” said Anton Katz, for DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko today.

Katz said the programme committee, which met on November 15, did not deal with the application made by the Democratic Alliance.

“They described it as frivolous,” Katz said.

Judge Dikgang Moseneke questioned Katz on what he wanted the Constitutional Court to do for his client.

“If you were to be direct, what is it exactly that this court can do to resolve your problem, in very simple language,” said Moseneke.

“Make your submission in a language that even a lay person can understand.

“Are you asking us to direct the speaker (of Parliament), are you asking us to order Parliament to have a motion tabled before it? What exactly do you want from us in a direct and simple language to understand?”

Katz replied: “Declare that what happened was unconstitutional.”

Katz said the Western Cape High Court, in its ruling, had said there were gaps in the rules that governed Parliament’s programme committee.

However, the High Court said it did not have jurisdiction to order Parliament to correct this.

The DA wanted Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in November 2012.

Parliament’s programme committee schedules the work and business to be dealt with in Parliament.

In a statement released today, the ANC said: “We hold firmly to our view that this matter should not have been brought to court, as, in our view, it is a political dispute that can be resolved by parties within Parliament.”

The judiciary should not be placed in the uncomfortable position of interfering in the internal affairs of an independent arm of the state or of baby-sitting Parliament, the ANC said.

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