Party points fin­ger at speaker, cops and rules for Eff­ing chaos in Par­lia­ment

CityPress - - Front Page - CARIEN DU PLESSIS carien.du­p­lessis@city­ – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Alicestine Oc­to­ber

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe said ac­tion should have been taken against Economic Free­dom Fighters (EFF) MPs when they dis­rupted Thurs­day’s par­lia­men­tary ques­tion ses­sion with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. “Never dis­play the state as weak. I don’t ac­cept that,” he told City Press yes­ter­day.

“When peo­ple break rules, you must act de­ci­sively. It made the in­sti­tu­tion look bad. They wanted the pres­i­dent to ac­count, they called him to ac­count, and then dis­rupted the ses­sion,” he said.

The ANC’s na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee will dis­cuss the in­ci­dent at a meet­ing to­mor­row, Man­tashe said.

There will not be much time to act be­fore Tues­day’s Na­tional Assem­bly ple­nary, which the EFF will again at­tend.

ANC lead­ers and MPs are blam­ing var­i­ous peo­ple over how the chaos in the Na­tional Assem­bly should have been han­dled af­ter Speaker Baleka Mbete told the EFF to leave the cham­ber and the party’s mem­bers re­fused.

Man­tashe on Fri­day told eNCA the Western Cape po­lice un­der pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner Arno Lamoer failed to act be­cause they’re based in a DA-run prov­ince and had a “di­vided loy­alty”.

But yes­ter­day he told City Press “not only the po­lice, but many peo­ple” were to blame.

Two ANC MPs who were in the cham­ber said the po­lice were un­der­staffed and could not act.

“The ser­vice of­fi­cers [of Par­lia­ment] are all women, so the Speaker should have thought of that be­fore she called on them to ac­com­pany the EFF out of the cham­ber,” said one MP.

“It was the first time any MPs failed to leave the cham­ber when asked to. The po­lice were then called in but there were only a few of­fi­cers on duty at the time. Par­lia­ment should have done an eval­u­a­tion be­fore mak­ing such a call.”

The other MP said the se­cu­rity min­is­ters were be­ing blamed. “There is anger to­wards se­cu­rity min­is­ters that they al­lowed this to hap­pen. It was clear that we needed to take pre­cau­tion.”

But a mem­ber of the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) said some in the ANC blamed Mbete for not act­ing more de­ci­sively.

By sus­pend­ing pro­ceed­ings, the NEC mem­ber said, Mbete handed the EFF a vic­tory. Ac­cord­ing to him, the think­ing in the ANC was that Par­lia­ment should bring the pres­i­dent back soon to fin­ish the aborted ques­tion ses­sion and negate the EFF’s per­ceived tri­umph.

He also lamented that Lamoer went to the Na­tional Assem­bly to “ne­go­ti­ate” rather than ar­rest the EFF MPs.

Other party hacks said na­tional coun­cil of prov­inces chair­per­son Thandi Modise should have acted more de­ci­sively against EFF sup­port­ers by ex­pelling them for a week or two when they dis­rupted pro­ceed­ings she presided over in June.

“She was dis­tracted by the pig sto­ries [about her North West farm] at the time,” said one.

ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said Par­lia­ment should de­velop tougher rules. “At the mo­ment, you can cause dis­rup­tions to­day and be back in Par­lia­ment the fol­low­ing day,” said Kodwa.

An­other ANC NEC mem­ber, who wasn’t in Par­lia­ment, said of­fi­cials should “throw the book at them”.

ANC MP and for­mer party spokesper­son Jack­son Mthembu warned that there could be vi­o­lence if Thurs­day’s behaviour was re­peated.

“I can’t guar­an­tee that if this hap­pened again, the ANC will be able to con­tain its mem­bers,” he said.

But an­other ANC MP said Mthembu’s state­ment was “un­ac­cept­able”.

Mbete said on Thurs­day night she would con­sti­tute a “pow­ers and priv­i­leges com­mit­tee” that would have a mul­ti­party struc­ture and could de­cide on par­lia­men­tary rules.

DA chief whip Jo­han Steen­huisen said there was a prob­lem with the way ques­tions were han­dled in Par­lia­ment.

“The Speaker needs to put in place a mech­a­nism to man­age the way mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive an­swer ques­tions in the House,” he said.

“Cur­rent mech­a­nisms were treated with dis­dain by the pres­i­dent, who has the con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion to an­swer ques­tions in an un­scripted man­ner.”

Al­though ANC in­sid­ers said Zuma looked “tired” this week, and some would like to see him go over the Nkandla mat­ter, the party was un­likely to act against him.

“What I’m hear­ing is that peo­ple are tired of the pres­i­dent, but their ha­tred for Malema su­per­sedes their dis­like for Zuma,” said one in­sider.

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