Parly to beef up security during State of Nation address

2015-01-18 19:48
Dan Calderwood, News24

Dan Calderwood, News24

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Parliament is pulling out all stops to prevent disruptions by the Economic Freedom Front and save President Jacob Zuma any embarrassment when he delivers the State of the Nation address next month.

According to the Sunday Independent, there are signs that Parliament is planning a heavy-handed security crackdown in response to the EFF’s threats to disrupt the proceedings if Zuma fails to answer questions on paying back some of the money spent on his Nkandla homestead.

The portfolio committee on police has said it will meet with the leaders of police later this month to discuss the matter of security.

Meanwhile, senior officials are holding their breath that the event will go off without any incident – especially as it is the highlight of Parliament’s calendar.

This comes after News24 reported last week that the EFF's threat to ask Zuma questions about Nkandla during his State of the Nation speech will flout the rules of Parliament.

Masibulele Xaso, secretary to the National Assembly, conceded to a media workshop that the joint rules of Parliament were silent on the eventuality of MPs putting questions to the president during his address.

"There are no rules in the rules dealing with questions to the president," he said, but hastened to add that, in terms of the Constitution and the rule book, the address was made in a joint sitting called by the president to deal with a particular issue.

"In the main, the joint sitting is an extraordinary sitting called in terms of the Constitution to enable the president in general to deliver the State of the Nation address and no other business is dealt with in that joint sitting.

"There has never been an occasion where there were questions in a joint sitting or where there were points of order in the joint sitting," he said.

This had become convention, Xaso said, and such conventions were part of what governed the running of Parliament.

"The conventions crystallise into what may be referred to as the standing orders, and that convention has crystallised into what may be referred to as a standing order."

This suggested that the presiding officer, who is the chair when Zuma delivers his speech on 12 February, would apply it with the force of a rule.

Xaso suggested the Speaker could invoke rule 13 of the joint rules, which state that no MP may speak during the sitting unless given permission by the presiding officer during, or prior to, the meeting.

Speaker Baleka Mbete on Tuesday wrote to EFF leader Julius Malema urging his party to "desist" from raising questions during the address. He threatened in writing to do so if Zuma failed to call a special sitting before that date to respond to questions from MPs.

Most possible scenarios raised by the media in the workshop, in case the EFF failed to heed her warning, have already transpired in sittings last year.

‘Pay back the money’

On 21 August, EFF MPs interrupted Zuma when he was answering a question on Nkandla and chanted in unison "pay back the money", referring to funds misspent on his homestead.

That led to Malema and 11 of his MPs being suspended from Parliament late last year without pay for two to four weeks.

In mid-November, riot police entered the National Assembly to remove EFF MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela after she called Zuma a thief and defied orders to leave the podium and the chamber.

Mbete said in her letter this week that MPs could raise matters in the debate following on the president's address.

But Xaso acknowledged that there was no precedent either for the president taking questions during his response to the debate, three days after his address, should the EFF try to seize that opportunity to question.

With regard to the possibility of MPs raising points of order during the opening, he stressed that these must relate to matters of procedure, or they would not be entertained.

"In a sense there will be what you call valid points of order and invalid points of order, so in terms of what point of order may arise or not arise one will not be able to expand beyond saying that a point of order has to relate of a point of procedure.

"It must be a procedure relating to that specific sitting."

He stressed that in terms of section 14 (g) of the rules, the Speaker had the right to order an MP disrupting the sitting or showing contempt for the rules, to leave the chamber immediate.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  parliament 2015
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Most Read
News In Your Area
Top Lifestyle

Matric Results are coming soon!

Notify me when results become available

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.