Tensions simmer in Parliamentary debate

2015-02-18 19:02
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2015-02-18 10:09

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Cape Town - Tensions rose in the National Assembly chamber on Wednesday after Justice Minister Michael Masutha said Speaker Baleka Mbete was entitled to summon the army to the chamber.

"Even the SA National Defence Force can be deployed in Parliament. As long as the intervention is necessary, justifiable and sanctioned by the presiding officers it is perfectly legitimate," Masutha said during the debate on the State of the Nation debate.

His comments stirred up a hornet's nest as members of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the DA objected.

"The honourable member is now reflecting on a matter that is sub judice. It's in court and under investigation by the parliamentary oversight authority, and we have a member who has not been eating for some four days because the jaws are broken by the police of the President Zuma... can he withdraw this," EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said, referring to a court challenge against the use of police in the National Assembly chamber..

National Council of Provinces deputy chairperson Raseriti Tau told the House he and his fellow presiding officers were not aware of any pending court actions against Parliament.

But, Tau ruled that if the case was indeed before the courts, MPs should refrain from referring to it.

As Masutha continuously tried to defend section 11 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act which entitled Mbete to call security forces into the House, others in opposition benches jumped up and challenged him.

At one stage, EFF leader Julius Malema furiously shouted that Masutha must sit down when points of order were being raised.

"He must sit down. It's a rule. You must know the rules. You are the minister of justice," Malema shouted.

Tau ruled Malema out of order, and again asked Masutha to continue with his speech.

It was not long before Malema again jumped up saying: "That matter is very sensitive. A woman has been assaulted, sir."

What followed was a heated exchange between EFF members and Deputy Basic Education Minister Enver Surty.

Surty had objected to Malema's interruption, describing it as "unruly conduct".

As the heckling continued, Surty was heard saying: "I am not going to be harassed or intimidated... I am not afraid".

'Calm down'

Tau found it hard to control the temperature in the House, insisting MPs needed to "calm down".

When DA chief whip John Steenhuisen challenged Surty's point of order, it appeared the House could descend into further chaos.

Steenhuisen refused to take his seat after repeatedly being ordered to do so by Tau.

"I will not sit down. If you want to send the police in to take me out, you can," a visibly angry Steenhuisen said.

Tau managed to restore some calm in the House, but not before several security officers, dressed in black pants and white shirts, were seen gathering outside the chamber.

Later during the debate, tempers again flared when Malema mentioned in a point of order "the President is lying".

Malema eventually withdrew the remark, but only after heated arguing between members of the ANC and EFF, as Tau battled to retain control of the House.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  john steenhuisen  |  julius malema  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015  |  politics

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