Parliament not the ANC's playground - Zille

2014-11-17 14:28


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Cape Town - The DA will defend Parliament and make clear that the National Assembly is not the ANC's playground, DA leader Helen Zille said on Monday.

"[President] Jacob Zuma does not have the option to refuse to answer questions in Parliament," Zille said in the Democratic Alliance SA Today newsletter.

"He has a constitutional duty to do so," she said.

'Crush opposition'

It was reported at the weekend that Zuma was at the centre of the chaos that erupted in Parliament last week.

He had reportedly demanded that African National Congress MPs "use their numbers to crush opposition" in Parliament.

According to The Sunday Times, he allegedly made the demand during a national executive committee (NEC) meeting in September, but it was only recently made public.

It reported that Zuma told MPs to stop being "accommodating" and said they should not allow "hooliganism" in the National Assembly that challenged the ruling party's authority in a "most abrasive and shocking manner".

Contempt for Constitution

Zille said Zuma had shown complete ignorance and contempt for the Constitution and the principle of accountability.

"What clearer illustration could there be that he is unfit to lead a democracy?" she asked.

Officials at Parliament were already preparing for Zuma's State of the Nation address next year, and the DA was not going to allow it to degenerate into a "crass fashion parade and ANC propaganda platform on the prime time television".

"Unless we see fundamental reforms in Parliament, involving the programming authority, the chief whip’s forum, the replacement of the Speaker [Baleka Mbete], and the regular appearance of the president to answer questions, it will not be business as usual."

Nkandla saga

Tempers flared in the House on Thursday when ANC MPs objected to motions the opposition tried to bring to delay the adoption of a report exonerating Zuma in the Nkandla saga.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had found that he unduly benefited from R246m in so-called security upgrades to his private homestead at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.

The DA and Economic Freedom Fighters tabled motion after motion, with most questions relating to the Nkandla issue or to Zuma.

Veteran ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, who was pivotal in the ad hoc committee that drafted the report absolving Zuma, said the opposition was exaggerating Madonsela's finding that he repay a portion of the money not related to security upgrades.

Members of the police public order policing unit entered the National Assembly Chamber during proceedings, and a scuffle ensued.

This was after EFF MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela refused to leave the podium when she was ordered to do so by house chairperson Cedric Frolick.

Mashabela had called Zuma a "thief" during a debate on the Grand Inga Hydro Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and refused to withdraw her remarks.

Mashabela would not be moved when Sergeant-at-Arms Regina Mohlomi tried to escort her from the podium.

Police arrived minutes later and tugged at Mashabela, who could be heard shouting: "I don't want to be touched".

MPs from opposition benches expressed outrage and jumped to Mashabela's defence.

ANC in a crisis - Zille

Zille said the ANC was in crisis and a symptom of that had surfaced in every institution in the country, public and private.

"As the ANC disintegrates its leaders will seek diversions and scapegoats, but this will be in vain.

"The DA’s job, during the next five years, is to prevent the ANC from turning its crisis into a crisis for South Africa’s democracy. This is an enormous challenge as the events in Parliament last week showed," she said.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  helen zille  |  jacob zuma  |  nkandla upgrade  |  parliament 2014  |  politics

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