Thousands spent on bulletproof vests for Parliament 'bouncers'

2017-10-15 06:00
(Jenni Evans, News24)

(Jenni Evans, News24)

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Parliament has spent almost R84 000 on purchasing bulletproof vests for its so-called bouncers, whose main role is to remove unruly MPs from the House.

It is unclear why they would require such protection because all they appear to do is to push out Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs.

An invoice, seen by City Press, describes the 40 items ordered on October 5 as protective gear for chamber support officers, with “bulletproof vests” in brackets.

The purchase order also reveals that the items would be needed by November 4 – two days after President Jacob Zuma’s scheduled appearance in the National Assembly for his last question-and-answer session for the year.

According to the latest parliamentary programme, Zuma will answer MPs’ questions on November 2 in the National Assembly and appear at the National Council of Provinces twice after that – on November 9 to answer questions, and on November 23 for his annual address.

Parliament did not respond to requests for comment, despite promising to do so.

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the purchase of bulletproof vests was designed to instil fear in EFF MPs.

“No one buys a bulletproof vest and not guns [as well]. So, it means they will soon use guns on MPs.

"We reject this as fruitless expenditure. We reject this structure as a whole. It is in violation of the Constitution,” said Ndlozi.

“This investment comes as Parliament is pleading poverty and struggling to fill critical posts. Yet, it always finds money for the so-called bouncers.”

In May, City Press revealed that Parliament was paying the white-shirt bouncers a danger allowance of R800 – double the amount paid to police officers.

The legislature rejected this figure, setting it at R400 a month, which is paid when Parliament is in session.

City Press has since seen evidence of the R800 payments in the form of payslips.

“It is common knowledge that they often suffer injuries as a result of physical assault, which in the past has resulted in hospitalisation and the need for professional counselling,” parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said at the time.

A total of 69 longstanding protection officers took Parliament to the labour court in December for unfair discrimination, claiming that the legislature did not follow normal human resources processes and, as a result, they were denied a chance to apply for the new posts.

The issue of the bouncers’ compensation will be heard in court next month.

They are hired at significantly higher salaries, and at better terms and conditions, than ordinary protection officers, who have worked in Parliament for many years.

The new officers were hired at a better annual pay of up to R150 000 more than the existing team of parliamentary protection service officials.

In responding papers, Parliament said the new posts provided for critical skills and capabilities which the existing protection officers lacked.

Read more on:    parliamant  |  eff  |  mbuyiseni ndlozi  |  jacob zuma

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