Parly, media serve same boss - Mbete

2014-09-24 12:50
Baleka Mbete (Picture: Sapa)

Baleka Mbete (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Parliament and the media both have the responsibility to work correctly for the same "boss", National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said on Tuesday.

"We have a role to play in ensuring we service this boss that we all have. It is the same boss, and that is our people," she told a meeting between the SA National Editors Forum and Parliament's presiding officers in Johannesburg.

Mbete had to adjourn the sitting of the House during presidential question time on 21 August when the EFF refused to leave.

"I lost it that day," Mbete said on Tuesday.

"However, to reduce the cause of what went on that day to the Speaker is to really get it wrong."

On 16 September, opposition leaders walked out of Parliament leaving the ANC to easily defeat the vote of no confidence in Mbete.

Mbete said it was not her intention to "get rid of journalists" from the House during the disruption.

"We have no interest in hiding anything because in an open democracy like ours there is no point in doing that. You will only shoot yourself in the foot."

Mbete said the recent disruptions and "drama" in Parliament had not affected the way it did its work.

"The drama is really for your eyes, which is only in the chamber. That is where the drama is confined because that's where everybody will see what they are doing," she said.

"Committees continue with their work. The colleagues from those red benches [the EFF] are there in all the committees in Parliament... Where a lot of the things they scream about in the House are actually discussed."

The EFF said earlier on Tuesday they would go to court to challenge disciplinary charges against 20 MPs stemming from their heckling of President Jacob Zuma on 21 August to repay state funds spent on his Nkandla home.

"After careful consideration, the Economic Freedom Fighters has decided to urgently approach the country's courts to interdict the intention of the ANC to exclude the EFF from Parliament," spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

‘Pay back the money’

This is the second time the EFF has threatened legal action over the threat of expulsion arising from the party's unprecedented protest in the National Assembly during presidential question time last month.

EFF MPs chanted "pay back the money" after EFF leader Julius Malema asked Zuma when he would heed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendation that he reimburse the state for non-security upgrades done to his KwaZulu-Natal homestead.

They ignored a threat from Mbete to have them physically removed from the House and she adjourned the House with the remainder of Zuma's questions unanswered.

National Council of Provinces chair Thandi Modise said Parliament's presiding officers were forced to be impartial, but were "not angels".

"It doesn't matter how annoying they [MPs] might be, they are representing a voice out there in the community that must find representation in the house," she said.

"That voice, no matter how annoying it is to my person, I am forced to apply the rules equally to the members of all parties."

She said she previously received a note from a member of the ruling party who said she needed to stop smiling and look stern.

"Sometimes you find yourself laughing and sometimes you find yourself annoyed. But when we are annoyed we are not supposed to show it."

She said most of the points of order made to the two female presiding officers were possibly to intimidate them.

Mbete mentioned earlier that the space for Parliament to function was too small and it needed a larger area.

"We are squeezed into that place... we need to address that issue."

Responding to a question on whether Parliament will move from Cape Town, Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said that was a "big complex debate".

"The issues of space have to be addressed in the meantime."

At the end of meeting Modise serenaded Mbete with a rendition of Happy Birthday ahead of her birthday on Wednesday.

Read more on:    sanef  |  eff  |  baleka mbete  |  cape town  |  parliament 2014  |  media

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