ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has opposed a request by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to be invited to make a farewell speech in the National Assembly.
Mthembu on Thursday said he supports the principle but it should follow the protocol where retired chapter 9 institution heads are honoured in a separate event and where they address MPs of all parties but not Parliament.
EFF leader Julius Malema told journalists in Johannesburg recently that his party would propose to Speaker Baleka Mbete to allow Madonsela to address Parliament.
At the time, Malema praised Madonsela for her sterling work saying no other Public Protector before her had done what she did for the country to investigate corruption and make politicians involved account for it.
But yesterday, Mthembu said he noted the EFF’s request to Mbete but the rules of Parliament did not allow Madonsela to speak in the House. He said the privilege to address Parliament is reserved for heads of state or government, heads of multilateral institutions such as the UN and heads of the judiciary.
“No head of a chapter 9 institution or any other state institution which is accountable to Parliament has ever addressed the institution in terms of these rules, practices, conventions and precedence,”Jackson said.
Mthembu said in terms of Rule 62(1) of the Assembly the Speaker, after consultation with or at the request of the Leader of Government Business, may invite a head of state or a head of government who is on an official visit to the Republic to address the House.
“The EFF’s request, noble and well-intentioned as it might be, unfortunately is not in line with the rules and precedence in Parliament,” Mthembu said.
Rather, said Mthembu, heads of chapter 9 institutions are honoured with farewell events and opportunities to address parliamentarians when they retire but such events are traditionally held in Parliament’s Old Assembly Chamber and attended by all MPs from parliamentary political parties.
He said the recent example was the farewell function to honour former Auditor-General Terrence Nombembe.
“The ANC supports the noble idea of affording the former public protector a parliamentary farewell and an opportunity to address MPs. It for this reason that we welcome the arrangements announced by the presiding officers to honour retired and new heads of chapter 9 institutions, ” Mthembu said.