Who can come onto the floor?

2015-03-08 15:00

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Parliament is trying to establish an operational manual that will stipulate the procedures for removing disruptive MPs from the Chamber.

The National Assembly’s subcommittee on rules, which is reviewing the procedures, wants Parliament’s political oversight authority to draft a manual that will address the following issues:

»?How MPs should be removed from the House.

» While police can be on the floor of the Chamber, should they be armed or not?

» Who has the authority over the police when they are in Parliament?

» What constitutes a threat to life within the House?

The political oversight authority is a senior structure constituted by Parliament’s two presiding officers, their deputies, leaders of political parties and the ANC chief whip.

In a rules committee meeting on Friday, the DA’s Natasha Michael was roundly supported when she made the proposal to refer the security procedures to the political oversight authority.

“We will then have a formulated operation manual that the rules will refer to and, hopefully, will never have a reoccurrence of [the] violence that we saw in the recent past,” Michael said.

“The DA maintains that, under no circumstances, if an MP stands up in the House and constitutes no threat to anyone in the House, may he or she be removed by an armed security guard.

“It takes away all our rights; all our freedoms that were so hard fought for.

“It means the opposition is then skittish. You are scared and unsure in your own house whether or not you can stand up and whether or not you will be attacked,” she said.

Parliament has a sergeant at arms, an unarmed civilian, and she has not been able to remove MPs in this fifth Parliament.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs have blatantly ignored her. In the past, MPs cooperated and left the House when the sergeant at arms was called in.

ANC MP Juli Kilian argued that, just like security services were provided to secure courts and courtrooms, certain sections of the SA Police Service were seconded to Parliament.

Kilian said they had been advised that some of the police members who had been in Parliament since 1994 wore civilian clothes, while others were in uniform.

Kilian said they had also been advised that, in terms of the Constitution, “we cannot establish our own bouncers or Parliamentary guard”.

She added that the main issue they wanted addressed was “the lack of respect for the authority of the chair”.

“What we are perpetuating at present is a culture of insubordination – and that’s the concern we have.”

The EFF, which has been at the centre of disruptions and disciplinary matters in Parliament in recent months, did not attend Friday’s meeting.

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