SACP condemns State of the Nation chaos

2015-02-13 18:13
Chaos in Parliament (Rodger Bosch, AP)

Chaos in Parliament (Rodger Bosch, AP)

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Johannesburg - The SACP on Friday condemned the disruptions during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address in Parliament and said it supported the presiding officer's actions to stop it.

"The [SA Communist Party] calls for new preventive and responsive measures to bring to an end the abuse and misuse of Parliament, to disrupt its mandate and hold back the advance of the democratic, social and economic transformation of our country," spokesman Alex Mashilo said in a statement.

"The counter-productive behaviour of disrupting the work of our democratically elected Parliament and government accountability can only be the work of those who are not interested to see South Africa move forward."

Three Economic Freedom Fighters MPs, including party leader Julius Malema, were told to leave the House after they persisted in trying to question Zuma about misspending on his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, after he started delivering his state-of-the-nation address on Thursday.

Security officers were called in to escort the MPs out of the National Assembly.

‘A sad day for democracy’

The Democratic Alliance walked out shortly afterwards in protest against the security officers' presence in the National Assembly Chamber.

Zuma then resumed his speech.

The SACP welcomed Zuma's tabling of the address despite the "right-wing alliance of the forces of counter-revolution" leaving the House.

The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) said Thursday was a sad day for the country's democracy.

"Political leaders in Parliament need to urgently reflect on the implications, both political and constitutional, of what occurred during the joint sitting of Parliament," it said in a statement.

"They need to account for what transpired and provide solutions so that ordinary people can be assured that our democratic foundations are not being permanently eroded."

Abusing parliamentary rules

Casac believed a number of constitutional transgressions needed attention, including the jamming of the cellphone signal before proceedings began, and the EFF's disruption of proceedings.

Casac said the EFF had abused parliamentary rules to the point where the constitutional rights of other MPs and Zuma were infringed on.

"While it is certainly important to recognise that the rights to free speech, and the privileges of all MPs must be carefully protected... so it follows that this principle applies across the House to all MPs.

"To deny the president this opportunity [to account to Parliament on his government's programme] is to undermine the accountability function of Parliament," it said.

However, Casac also recognised that Zuma had not yet provided adequate answers to questions about Nkandla.

"This, too, represents a failure in constitutional accountability that must be urgently rectified by the president."

Casac also wanted the identity of the security officers who removed the EFF MPs to be made public.

Mounting frustration

Agri SA said the chaos which erupted in Parliament was indicative of the mounting frustration experienced by a number of South Africans.

"It was... an opportunity missed to inspire South Africans and investors about our country's prospects."

It said Zuma's reference to agriculture and land in his address was a further example of utterances which undermined confidence and had a detrimental impact on the economy.

"Agri SA will seek urgent clarification from government regarding the interpretation of the relevant proposals, also how they envisage the implementation thereof, bearing in mind limited funding and capacity.

"Although Agri SA will also consider steps to test the legality of the proposals, which at face value could be unconstitutional, the organisation will continue to hold discussions with the government in this regard," it said.

Zuma announced new proposals on land such as a ceiling on land ownership and a stop to foreign ownership.

Read more on:    sacp  |  eff  |  casac  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015  |  politics

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