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CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAK­I­NANA andisiwe.mak­i­nana@city­press.co.za

ity Press can re­veal that par­lia­ment has re­cruited ac­tive po­lice of­fi­cers to be­come part of its par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices – to en­force a new rule that will see dis­rup­tive MPs be­ing force­fully re­moved from the House.

On Fri­day, uni­forms for the new cops were be­ing bought only three days af­ter Par­lia­ment’s sub­com­mit­tee on rules re­solved that no po­lice would be called to the cham­ber. Ac­cord­ing to par­lia­men­tary sources, the of­fi­cers started on Fri­day, while oth­ers say they will only be­gin on Au­gust 15.

Cur­rently, po­lice of­fi­cers are only de­ployed to man the par­lia­men­tary gates and en­trances to par­lia­men­tary build­ing but are not al­lowed on the floor of the Na­tional Assem­bly.

The en­list­ing of po­lice goes against a rul­ing by the Western Cape High Court, which barred the po­lice from en­ter­ing the cham­ber in May.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties are hop­ping mad about the de­ci­sion to de­ploy po­lice, and say it of­fends the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers be­cause the po­lice re­port to the po­lice min­is­ter, who re­ports to Par­lia­ment.

Se­cu­rity sources re­veal the pro­ject is code-named Pro­ject EFF – a ref­er­ence to the con­tain­ment of red-blooded Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) MPs who have been at the fore­front of de­fy­ing Par­lia­ment’s pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers and have dis­rupted Par­lia­ment at least four times over the past year.

Par­lia­ment spokesper­son Luzuko Ja­cobs con­firmed on Fri­day that 22 po­lice of­fi­cers were be­ing sec­onded to Par­lia­ment to beef up Par­lia­ment’s own pro­tec­tion ser­vices. He de­nied the code name.

Of­fi­cers at­tended a meet­ing at Par­lia­ment’s im­bizo cen­tre on Fri­day, where they were briefed about their man­date.

“The in­ter­ven­tions to strengthen Par­lia­ment’s se­cu­rity ca­pac­ity to pro­tect mem­bers of Par­lia­ment in dis­charg­ing their con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity was not a se­cret, but a mat­ter of public knowl­edge,” said Ja­cobs.

In June, a mul­ti­party Na­tional Assem­bly rules com­mit­tee con­sid­ered amend­ments that pro­vide for the phys­i­cal re­moval of mem­bers who par­tic­i­pate in dis­rup­tions dur­ing pro­ceed­ings of Par­lia­ment, he said.

“The in­ten­tion, as stated by Speaker Baleka Mbete, is to en­able Par­lia­ment to carry out its con­sti­tu­tional man­date in an or­derly man­ner.

“There is broad agree­ment among the ma­jor­ity of po­lit­i­cal par­ties that when a mem­ber who par­tic­i­pates in dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour re­fuses to leave the cham­ber on the or­der of the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer, the mem­ber should be phys­i­cally re­moved by the par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices.

“This ad­di­tional func­tion re­quires the cur­rent ca­pac­ity of the par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices be strength­ened, said Ja­cobs.

A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tor at Par­lia­ment said the new cops would start work on Au­gust 15 – mean­ing stan­dard hu­man re­source pro­cesses had been by­passed.

On Fri­day, Par­lia­ment was procur­ing their uni­forms.

Ja­cobs said that po­lice of­fi­cers will wear the uni­form worn by par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers be­cause “it is a for­mal sec­ond­ment to Par­lia­ment”.

“They are not com­ing as po­lice, but they are com­ing as part of Par­lia­ment’s pro­tec­tion ser­vices,” he said.

Ja­cobs said the of­fi­cers will re­main on the pay­roll of the SA Po­lice Ser­vice, but that the sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment, Gengezi Mgid­lana, will be in charge of the pro­ject [of pro­tect­ing MPs rights] with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent peo­ple play­ing dif­fer­ent roles.

The move to in­cor­po­rate po­lice into Par­lia­ment pro­tec­tions ser­vice un­der­mines the process of the rules com­mit­tee, which is still de­bat­ing new pro­pos­als on rules. Agree­ments of that sub­com­mit­tee have no stand­ing un­til they are adopted by Par­lia­ment.

ANC MP Nyami Booi, the whip of the rules sub,com­mit­tee, re­fused to com­ment on the re­cruit­ment of po­lice, say­ing he only writes pol­icy and is not in­volved in its im­ple­men­ta­tion. Booi said he was not aware of what Par­lia­ment has im­ple­mented.

DA chief whip John Steen­huisen said the sec­ond­ment of the po­lice to Par­lia­ment is con­trary to the spirit of what had been ne­go­ti­ated in the rules com­mit­tee, and to the prin­ci­ple of the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers.

“We will not al­low a de­ploy­ment of SAPS to Par­lia­ment. A rose is still a rose by any other name,” said Steen­huisen.

“The only way we will ac­cept that is if all those mem­bers re­sign from the SAPS and are then vet­ted prop­erly. If they re­main po­lice of­fi­cers sec­onded to Par­lia­ment, they re­main ac­count­able to the po­lice min­is­ter, who in turn ac­counts to Par­lia­ment,” he said.

“It is white shirts: Part Two!” ex­claimed Free­dom Front Plus chief whip Corné Mul­der, who also sits in the rules sub­com­mit­tee.

He was re­fer­ring to po­lice who were dressed in white shirts and al­lowed to en­ter the na­tional assem­bly to evict EFF MPs dur­ing the state of the na­tion ad­dress in Fe­bru­ary.

The full rules com­mit­tee is sched­uled to meet on Tues­day.

And the days of MPs stand­ing up to in­ter­rupt the Speaker of Par­lia­ment or ig­nor­ing her or­ders could be over as soon as next week, when a new rule is ex­pected to take ef­fect.

Par­lia­ment is set to adopt a rule that will see dis­rup­tive MPs thrown out of the House and re­moved from the precinct by the po­lice if they re­sist re­moval by Par­lia­ment’s own pro­tec­tion per­son­nel.

The Na­tional Assem­bly’s rules com­mit­tee has fast-tracked the new rule to stop the fra­cas like the one on June 18, when Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion had to be aban­doned with­out the pres­i­dent ut­ter­ing a word.

Pres­i­dent Zuma is sched­uled to re­turn for another ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion on Au­gust 6.

The new rule pro­poses that “if a mem­ber re­sists at­tempts to be re­moved from the cham­ber … the sergeant at arms and the par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices may use such force as may be rea­son­ably nec­es­sary to over­come any re­sis­tance”.

Gone, too, are the days where par­lia­men­tary sit­tings are ad­journed be­cause of dis­rup­tions.

MPs this week said if a ple­nary ses­sion was sus­pended, it should only be for the pur­poses of re­mov­ing dis­rup­tive MPs. Par­lia­ment should con­tinue with its busi­ness af­ter­wards.

“Ad­journ­ing the sit­ting means the dis­rup­tive mem­bers have won,” Booi said his week. Po­lice will be called in to as­sist with the re­moval of MPs only if the MPs of­fer re­sis­tance to be­ing re­moved from the precinct.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi said no MP should be re­moved from Par­lia­ment un­der the di­rec­tion of the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers, un­less due process had been fol­lowed.

This week, Par­lia­ment’s le­gal ser­vices agreed with his view.

Par­lia­ment’s Ad­vo­cate Frank Jenk­ins said while the right of MPs to be MPs and their right to speak in Par­lia­ment was sub­ject to the rules of Par­lia­ment, with­hold­ing their salaries and bar­ring them from Par­lia­ment fa­cil­i­ties like their of­fices may be illegal.

PHOTO: LERATO MADUNA

SHOW OF

FORCE Mem­bers of the EFF are taken out of Par­lia­ment dur­ing the pres­i­dent’s state of the

na­tion ad­dress ear­lier this

year

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