Zille’s Western Cape address delayed

FILE PICTURE: Western Cape Premier Hellen Zille. Picture: Tracy lee Stark

The state of the province address could not go ahead in the Western Cape legislature on Friday after the Speaker suspended proceedings because of unruliness.

Speaker Sharna Fernandez said she could not carry on because African National Congress members were disruptive, and she suspended the session around 11.30am.

Premier Helen Zille started delivering her speech in a media briefing a short while later.

An hour earlier, Zille stood up to start her speech, but ANC chief whip Pierre Uys rose on a point of order.

What followed was lively back-and-forth comment between the ANC and Democratic Alliance benches, with Fernandez at the centre of the confrontation.

Uys criticised the legislature for apparently changing its mind on how to deal with provincial ANC chairman Marius Fransman’s refusal to withdraw a statement claiming Zille was racist.

Initially, the matter was to be referred to a judge president for review but it was then decided to refer it to the legislature’s rules committee.

“A rules committee makes rules, not a ruling. We were horrified to hear and you didn’t inform us,” Uys said to jeers from DA members.

He said the decision to block implementation of a ruling referring the matter to court was illegal and in bad faith.

Fernandez responded that she had severe reservations about referring an internal dispute to a court before all internal remedies had been considered.

“As Speaker, it is incumbent on me to ensure procedures are fair. Any person or party is free to make an application to court.”

The house was suspended and then resumed after half-an-hour.

Fernandez said she was not going to entertain any more comments and the matter could be debated at a later stage.

Provincial ANC chairman Marius Fransman jumped up to say he had just received a complaint that the live television feed had been cut.

The speaker had it checked out and said that was definitely not the case.

“So it’s been reactivated?” Fransman asked.

Fernandez said nothing had been reactivated and that the feed had been live at all times.

Fransman followed up with an allegation that there were private security guards waiting to enter the house from a nearby room.

This allegation was quickly shot down.

Fernandez referred to President Jacob Zuma’s comments on Thursday during his reply to debate in Parliament on his state-of-the-nation address a week earlier.

“We need to preserve the dignity of Parliament. That is what our president said.”

ANC MPLs refused to calm down, leading to the suspension.

– Note: This is an updated version of the article with corrections as issued by Sapa

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