Editorials 8.11.2018 09:45 am

MPs, show the president and citizens some respect

MPs start a scuffle in the National Assembly, 6 November 2018. Picture: Twitter screengrab

MPs start a scuffle in the National Assembly, 6 November 2018. Picture: Twitter screengrab

The National Assembly is no place for schoolboy-type behaviour, be it smutty comments or gestures, or punch-ups of the sort that should happen behind the bicycle shed.

Some will leap to the defence of Malusi Gigaba – as they did with his sex video (his private life, they argued) – after his latest tacky behaviour in parliament. The minister of home affairs wiggled his little finger at the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in a penis reference.

Defenders of Gigaba will claim he was just injecting some humour into proceedings and point out that DA MP John Steenhuizen went as far as teasing President Cyril Ramaphosa that his (Ramaphosa’s) hearing may have been affected by his recent respiratory infection.

None of this is remotely funny – in and of itself, but also because it shows the levels to which our parliament has sunk.

The National Assembly is no place for schoolboy-type behaviour, be it smutty comments or gestures, or even punch-ups of the sort that should happen behind the bicycle shed …

We don’t begrudge parliamentarians their moments of levity, but they are there to do a job … a job which – judging by the state of the country – they are not doing. If you don’t take your jobs seriously, clearly you don’t take us – the people who put you there – seriously either.

And what about the example this sets for children, who can watch your antics on live TV or even on visits to parliament itself?

The presence of cameras may persuade these beneficiaries of sheltered employment that they have some sort of talent in the entertainment business. Maybe if there was no TV, there would be less grandstanding and more proper business done.

What is happening now is a legacy of the Zuma era, when MPs were understandably frustrated by a president who ducked and dived and heh-heh-heh’ed his way through any questions.

Ramaphosa, however, does answer. So show him, and the citizens of this country, some respect.

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