'Parliament has been tested, found wanting'

2016-05-12 19:00
(Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath, News24)

(Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath, News24)

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Cape Town – Ultimatums, insults, party politics, pleas for the restoration of decorum, as well as the breakdown between management and staff, came under the spotlight during Parliament’s budget vote on Thursday.

The fifth Parliament had been tested, and found wanting, MPs said.

MPs said the National Assembly was seen as a circus and a laughing stock by the South African public.

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said Parliament was trampling on the freedom of speech of members.

Words like "rubbish" and "faction" were ruled unparliamentary, he said, and it was getting worse by the day.

EFF MP Thembinkosi Rawula continued the party’s stance in Parliament that President Jacob Zuma was an "illegitimate president", claiming the party wouldn’t allow Zuma to speak over them in the House.

He said the president was not allowed in the National Assembly, and they would not allow him to speak over their heads. 

Rawula questioned how MPs could celebrate the removal of MPs from the National Assembly.

"How do you sleep at night," he said.

ANC Chief Whip Doris Dlakude thanked the Parliament Protection Services for their work in constantly removing the EFF from the house.

Parties, including the EFF, UDM and IFP, called for a swift outcome to the ongoing problems between Parliament's management and staff.

'Proper decorum'

Rawula bemoaned the "breakdown" of relations between Parliament and its staff, and called for the banning of the use of labour brokers.

UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa called for swift action to deal with the much-publicised rift.

"They [staff] should not be crying out there like they do not have parents," he told Parliament.

IFP MP Narend Singh also joined calls for Parliament to negotiate with staff, who have been vocal about non-payment of bonuses and deductions from salaries.

Singh also raised concerns about maintenance in Parliament. 

Among his concerns was the sometimes lack of internet and WiFi in Marks Building.

He also said his office had not been cleaned properly since 2004.  

Meanwhile, ANC MP Richard Mdakane used the time to plead with MPs to help bring back "proper decorum" to the House.

He said MPs should not attack Parliament's secretary Gengezi Mgidlana, as he could not defend himself in the House.

"We have no right to turn this House into a field of personal attacks," he said.

'Foolish political gallantry'

He said freedom of speech was not an excuse for the "spurious attacks".

Mdakane also issued a warning to the EFF.

"We told your cousins they were not going to be here by 2014, and they are not. You also might not be here by 2019. You won’t be here," he said.

Mdakane’s pleas for proper decorum and dignity fell on deaf ears though, as MPs shouted, pointed and hurled insults at each other across the floor.

Kwankwa also called for unity between parties.

"With all hands on deck, we can build a Parliament that is based on the promotion of the values of human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism, and the supremacy of the Constitution. To achieve this, we have to try to remove the causes of mistrust and enmity between us," he said.

He called for the "foolish political gallantry that erodes the credibility, the dignity and the decorum of the House" to be removed.

Read more on:    anc  |  udm  |  eff  |  ifp  |  john steenhuisen  |  cape town  |  parliament 2016

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