The DA will defend Parliament and make clear that the National Assembly is not the ANC’s playground, says DA leader Helen Zille.
“[President] Jacob Zuma does not have the option to refuse to answer questions in Parliament,” said Zille in the Democratic Alliance SA Today newsletter.
“He has a constitutional duty to do so,” she said.
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”.
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.”
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 R246 million 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.
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.