Parliament will not show violent MPs

2015-03-11 00:00

CAPE TOWN — If members of Parliament get violent when President Jacob Zuma ­answers questions today, parliamentary television will not broadcast the fracas. Sister paper Beeld has learnt the EFF will demand that Zuma first answer the outstanding questions on Nkandla before he moves on to six new questions that have been put to him.

The EFF’s demand could lead to more ­disruption, but in terms of Parliament’s broadcasting policy, it need not show these disruptions.

If the parliamentary cameras do go blank as they did during the violent removal of MPs during Zuma’s state of the nation address, independent media will have to inform the public what their elected officials are up to in the National Assembly (NA).

But the Cape Town high court yesterday denied an urgent application from the South African Editors Forum (Sanef) and several media groups, including Media24, to have “full access” to the parliamentary session.

The urgent application followed the State Security Department’s scrambling of cellphone signals and the parliamentary cameras’ self-censorship of the forced removal of EFF MPs. To avoid a repeat of this, Sanef brought their application against Speaker Baleka Mbete, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise, the secretary of Parliament and the minister of State Security, asking the court to grant the media will “full access” to parliamentary sessions.

A full bench of judges dismissed the application. This means Parliament may today, as in the past, “regulate access to the events”.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party will insist that Zuma start his ­answers where he left off on August 21, when the EFF started chanting “pay back the money” and Zuma was led out of the assembly without answering any questions on Nkandla.

He said the EFF will use rule 111(6) to ­argue Zuma must continue where he left off, but the EFF’s interpretation of this rule is debatable and the Speaker will probably stop their efforts again.

This could lead to more high drama in the assembly, should the EFF MPs refuse to accept the Speaker’s decision — or her order to leave the assembly. In both cases, she may again call in security officers to frog march the EFF out of the assembly.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa yesterday wrote to Mbete to ask why the August 21 questions are not on the list.

Holomisa was about to add a follow-up question in August when the EFF started chanting. He said Mbete had undertaken to continue the NA’s unfinished business of that fateful day, and asked why the president has changed this plan by not including the unfinished questions on today’s list.

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