Baleka is part of the problem - Maimane

2015-01-15 14:52
Baleka Mbete (File, Sapa)

Baleka Mbete (File, Sapa)

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Cape Town –  DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said on Thursday that Speaker Baleka Mbete should be hauled before the disciplinary body after he distanced his party from an EFF threat to corner President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation next month.

"The EFF's planned disruption of the State of the Nation may be good for high drama, but it does not help to restore Parliament's role as the apex of our democracy's mechanisms of accountability," Maimane told a press conference on the steps of the National Assembly in Cape Town.

Maimane said he believed Mbete should instead be hauled before the disciplinary body.

"The Speaker Baleka Mbete is part of the problem. She is here to break down the rules. It is not only my admission, it is also the admission of the deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who stood up and said the rules of Parliament must be applied fairly, agreeing with it that they had not been applied fairly," he said.

Ramaphosa brokered a detente between the ANC and opposition parties late last year after police clashed with MPs in the National Assembly on 13 November when they entered the chamber to remove an EFF MP who called the president a thief.

But the truce lasted a mere day, before the ANC and DA fell out about the latter's insistence to proceed against Zuma for dodging questions over his Nkandla homestead.

That issue lies at the heart of tensions that made riot police on standby a regular sight in the parliamentary precinct last year.

"Destroying the institution of Parliament in no way strengthens its role."

Maimane denied that this marked a U-turn for the DA benches who last year flouted the legislature's rules when, along with the EFF, it heckled Mbete, chanting "you must go".

Reminded that both he and DA MP Mike Waters also ignored orders from Mbete, resulting in them being reported to the legislature's powers and privileges committee late last year.

Special sitting

Maimane said the DA would approach the issue by demanding a meeting of the National Assembly programming committee sometime this month still, so that it could fix five days in 2015 when Zuma would appear before the house to answer questions.

In contrast, EFF leader Julius Malema has written to Mbete demanding that a special sitting be called before the opening on February 12 to allow Zuma to answer questions, failing which they would put these to him on the day of his address.

In her response, sent on Tuesday, Mbete urged the EFF to desist.

On Wednesday, senior parliamentary officials said putting questions to the president would flout conventions of the legislature, which though not to be found in the rule book, had "crystallised into standing orders".

Malema and 11 other MPs have served suspension periods for disrupting Parliament on 21 August when they chanted at Zuma "pay back the money" after he was asked a question about the R246m upgrade of his homestead in Nkandla.

The sitting was adjourned, and to the opposition's frustration the president has yet to return to conclude his responses.

Maimane said on Thursday he would not entertain the ANC's demand that the opposition promise to treat Zuma with respect before he agreed to answer questions since the president did not get to set conditions.

He simply had to comply with the constitutional requirement to respond to MPs questions four times a year.

"I don't know where the president gets this notion," he said.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  mmusi maimane  |  baleka mbete  |  julius malema  |  cape town  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015  |  nkandla upgrade
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