Par­lia­ment de­lib­er­ately fil­i­bus­ter­ing

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

HE CHAOTIC and bru­tal events which have dam­aged the rep­u­ta­tion of Par­lia­ment, per­haps ir­re­triev­ably, fall un­der many head­ings.

Con­sider the fol­low­ing po­ten­tial head­lines: “Po­lice at­tack op­po­si­tion MPs”; “Speaker loses con­trol of the House”; “ANC com­mit­tees ex­on­er­ate Zuma over Nkandla over­spend”; “ANC sum­mon po­lice to quell pan­de­mo­nium” and “Fil­i­buster pro­vokes gov­ern­ment benches”.

The fil­i­buster is a tra­di­tion in the Amer­i­can Se­nate whereby a mem­ber may speak in­ter­minably to hold up leg­is­la­tion, as was the case of the Civil Rights leg­is­la­tion in 1964.

It is ob­vi­ously un­pop­u­lar be­cause it is un­demo­cratic and de­lib­er­ately time-wast­ing. Con­se­quently the ANC and some of the me­dia made much of the frivolous and ab­surd top­ics used in the fil­i­bus­ter­ing.

But on the other hand con­sider the Zuma ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tac­tic of wast­ing time and ob­struc­tion be­fore, dur­ing and after the is­sue of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s re­port. “Pan­de­mo­nium”, by the way, was orig­i­nally the word made up by Mil­ton to de­note the place where Satan and his le­gions of devils resided in Hell.

After all the sound and fury, what was the up­shot? Pres­i­dent Zuma is get­ting away with it, again.

Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment can­not say what is daily said all over the land. And the audio-visual line may be cut at any time.

Ge­off Hughes is emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor, Wits Univer­sity.


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