New rule will see disruptive members of Parliament being shown the door

2015-07-30 21:26
Members of the EFF are taken out of Parliament during the president’s state of the nation address earlier this year. PHOTO: Lerato Maduna

Members of the EFF are taken out of Parliament during the president’s state of the nation address earlier this year. PHOTO: Lerato Maduna

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Parliament adopted a new rule this afternoon that will see disruptive MPs physically removed from the house.

The decision was supported by all the political parties in the National Assembly with the exception of the Economic Freedom Fighters, whose members of Parliament have disrupted plenary sessions at least four times in the past year.

The new rule will also introduce an automatic suspension for an MP or MPs who have been kicked out of the house. The MP or MPs would be escorted off the precinct of Parliament by the Parliamentary Protection Services and by the police if necessary and would not be allowed in the precinct for a period stipulated in the rules.

Parliament would also establish a multiparty committee to which the speaker would then refer the circumstances of such a removal within 24 hours.

The Democratic Alliance's John Steenhuisen said his party supported the new rule "as we cannot allow one party to have a louder voice than others".

Steenhuisen said the big win was that Parliamentary Protection Services wouldn't include members of the security services.

The ANC proposed earlier this week that members of the security services be seconded to Parliament as an interim measure for six months while Parliament trained its own protection services personnel. This proposal came just days after City Press revealed that Parliament had in fact recruited active police officers to be incorporated into the Parliamentary Protection Services.  

This afternoon, EFF chief whip, Floyd Shivambu rejected the new rule, saying the EFF could not support the physical removal of MPs for something they said with their mouths.

"We don’t have a problem with those threatening the security of other MPs or facilities here; they could be physically removed, but not for something they say.

"You can’t remove an elected member of parliament physically. We can’t agree to the nonsensical approach that is being asked from us.

"That is the nonsensical rule that we are asked to pass in this Parliament," he added.

Shivambu said the EFF had told Speaker Baleka Mbete through its lawyers that it could not be constitutional to suspend any MP without going through due process.

"There is no law in South Africa that would agree with an automatic suspension whatever crime you have committed," he said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh said his party had no problem with supporting the rules as proposed.

He said extraordinary circumstances required extraordinary measures.

"If we had been following rules as they were followed over the many years of Parliament, there wouldn’t have been a need for these rules."

Singh said even on a football field, a football player who had been red-carded unfairly does leave the field, and appeals later.

The United Democratic Movement warned that the rules would not resolve the political issues in Parliament.

"Through these rules we are saying might is right. We are not in favour of using administrative measures to sort out political problems," said UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.

He said they supported the new rule only because all MPs had a duty to do their work in Parliament.

The EFF called for a vote on the passing of the rule and was defeated by 307 votes to 16.

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