Cops de­ployed in House when needed, Mbete, ANC in­sist

But crit­ics say it is a vi­o­la­tion of con­sti­tu­tion

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - BA­BALO NDENZE

HE OF­FICE of un­der­fire Speaker Baleka Mbete and the ANC in Par­lia­ment have not ruled out the de­ploy­ment of po­lice into the Na­tional Assem­bly in fu­ture, and would not hes­i­tate to take sim­i­lar steps against un­ruly op­po­si­tion MPs who defy or­ders.

The ANC and Mbete came un­der se­vere crit­i­cism last week for the de­ploy­ment of po­lice clad in riot gear to re­move a fe­male EFF MP.

Thurs­day’s un­prece­dented move, never seen be­fore in demo­cratic South Africa, saw po­lice in riot gear en­ter the Na­tional Assem­bly to phys­i­cally re­move EFF MP Reneilwe Masha­bela, who de­fied an or­der from pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer Cedric Frolick to with­draw her state­ment call­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma a “thief”.

There was pan­de­mo­nium on Thurs­day dur­ing a marathon sit­ting that saw MPs de­bate bud­get re­ports and the Nkandla ad hoc com­mit­tee re­port late into the night.

The sit­ting came to a cli­max when things got phys­i­cal after the po­lice en­tered the cham­ber to re­move Masha­bela.

“Our po­si­tion is that the rules as well as the laws that gov­ern con­duct must be ap­plied fear­lessly and with­out prej­u­dice. The law says the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer has the right to re­move dis­rup­tive char­ac­ters hold­ing to ran­som the business of the House. That is in the law,” ANC cau­cus spokesman Moloto Mothapo said.

There had not been any “change in the ap­ply­ing of those laws” and the “ANC has been very un­der­stand­ing” un­til now, he added.

Mothapo said there was an “anti-majority” ten­dency where peo­ple “de­monise the use of its majority”. “Eleven mil­lion peo­ple voted for the ANC to pur­sue their agenda,” he said, brush­ing aside re­ports link­ing Zuma’s po­lit­i­cal over­view dur­ing a na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing in Septem­ber to Thurs­day’s in­ci­dent.

Zuma told the meet­ing:

T“We can­not and should not be bull­dozed by noisy smaller par­ties”.

Mbete’s spokes­woman, Mand­lakazi Sig­cawu, para­phrased and quoted sec­tions of the Pow­ers, Priv­i­leges and Im­mu­ni­ties of Par­lia­ment and Provin­cial Leg­is­la­tures Act to make her point. “Sec­tions 4 and 11 pro­vide that the se­cu­rity ser­vices may en­ter and per­form polic­ing func­tions on the precincts with the per­mis­sion of the Speaker or the chair­per­son,” Sig­cawu said.

How­ever, EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi ques­tioned how the po­lice, act­ing on the or­ders of the ANC pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers, could “phys­i­cally as­sault and re­move a demo­crat­i­cally elected fe­male fighter who was un­armed and posed no threat to any­one’s life.

“The Par­lia­ment tele­vi­sion ser­vices were fur­ther tam­pered with to hide the as­sault and vi­o­lence on mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.

“They did this after many mem­bers of the me­dia had left the House, be­cause they are cow­ards who want to do il­le­gal things in se­crecy and un­der the cover of dark­ness. This ma­nip­u­la­tion of the cam­eras in Par­lia­ment must also be un­der­stood as cen­sor­ship, and the pro­hi­bi­tion of the right of the peo­ple to view and know what is hap­pen­ing in Par­lia­ment,” Nd­lozi said.

By or­der­ing po­lice on EFF MPs, the ANC had vi­o­lated sec­tion 58(1) of the con­sti­tu­tion, which states that “cab­i­net mem­bers and mem­bers of the Na­tional Assem­bly have free­dom of speech in the Assem­bly and in com­mit­tees, sub­ject to its rules and or­ders; and are not li­able to civil or crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings, ar­rest, im­pris­on­ment or da­m­ages for any­thing that they have said in, pro­duced be­fore, or sub­mit­ted to the Assem­bly or any of the com­mit­tees”, he added.

DA par­lia­men­tary leader Mmusi Maimane said his party no longer recog­nised Mbete as Speaker. “Baleka Mbete lost con­trol of the House and de­stroyed her cred­i­bil­ity as the Speaker. Ac­cord­ingly, we will cease to recog­nise her au­thor­ity as Speaker. Ev­ery time she pre­sides over the House, the DA will only send its chief whip, deputy chief whip and those mem­bers par­tic­i­pat­ing in de­bates,” Maimane said.

On Fri­day, Mbete said: “They had re­sisted in spite of us hav­ing a law which gives us the au­thor­ity to call the po­lice. But we could not sit here and for­ever al­low dis­rup­tion and out­ra­geous con­duct.”

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDS­BERG

NKANDLA POW­DER KEG: Dr Con­nie Mul­der of the Free­dom Front Plus dis­plays a photo of the Nkandla homestead in the Na­tional Assem­bly, while Speaker Baleka Mbete looks on.

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