DA up in arms after MP forced out of NCOP chamber

2018-06-07 17:55
Cathy Labuschagne. (Supplied)

Cathy Labuschagne. (Supplied)

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The DA wants an urgent meeting with National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, after its leader in the NCOP, Cathy Labuschagne, was forcibly removed from the chamber during a fractious debate on Wednesday.

According to DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, she was "violently assaulted" and "unlawfully removed" by the Parliamentary Security Services.

"The sitting, chaired by Masefako Dikgale, had devolved into complete chaos during the Policy Debate on the Budget Vote for Rural Development and Land Reform, largely due to the presiding officer’s incompetence. Labuschagne had raised a valid point of order, as the presiding officer failed to execute her duty to maintain order in the sitting," said Steenhuisen in a statement released on Thursday.

'Physically forced from the chamber'

"Instead of yielding to the DA’s call to maintain order, the presiding officer requested that the Parliamentary Security Services remove Labuschagne from the chamber, in contravention of the rules of the NCOP. 

"Labuschagne was then physically forced from the chamber by members of the Parliamentary Security Services and was further assaulted by them on the way out," said Steenhuisen.

The trouble started when DA MP Beyers Smit said in his speech that the EFF was populist. He was then interrupted several times by EFF MPs, with Tebogo Mokwele being particularly vociferous. 

Several MPs raised points of order, none entertained by Dikgale. As Smit continued, he was again interrupted, leading Labuschagne to rise on a point of order.

"The decorum of this House, for the past 15 minutes, has been terrible. We cannot continue like this…" was all she could get out. 

"That is not a point of order!" Dikgale said. 

'Gross abuse of parliamentary procedure'

She switched off Labuschagne's microphone and asked her to sit down. Labuschagne refused, still speaking, despite her microphone being switched off and Dikgale's pleas for her to sit down. Dikgale called the Usher of the Black Rod in. Labuschagne still would not budge, and two female members of the security services entered the chamber. 

Labuschagne sat down, and they grabbed hold of her arms, one at each side, and pulled Labuschagne off the bench, down the passage, and out of the chamber door.

A laughing Mokwele took a photo or video with her cellphone as Labuscaghne was dragged past her. Dikgale asked her to delete it. 

Steenhuisen said it "is an abuse of process and entirely unlawful for the Parliamentary Security Services to enter the NCOP chamber". 

"Moreover, to do so in order to prevent a democratically elected Member of Parliament from executing her duties in service of the people of South Africa on an issue as critical as land reform is an indictment on the constitutional role of Parliament," he said. 

"The DA is appalled by the gross abuse of parliamentary procedure by a presiding officer and we hope that we can work together with the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces to ensure that the presiding officer in question is appropriately sanctioned for her conduct on the day," Steenhuisen said. 

"An assault on Members of Parliament is a direct assault on South Africa’s Constitutional Democracy - the DA will continue to fight for South Africans in Parliament, particularly on critical issues such as land reform."

Read more on:    da  |  thandi modise  |  cape town

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