South Africa 23.7.2015 03:14 pm

Parliament changing rules to stifle disruptions – Mbete

Parliament  Madam Speaker, Baleka Mbethe  before addressing COSATU members at Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg, 14 July 2014, on the last day of Cosatu Special Congress. Picture: Nigel Sibnada

Parliament Madam Speaker, Baleka Mbethe before addressing COSATU members at Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg, 14 July 2014, on the last day of Cosatu Special Congress. Picture: Nigel Sibnada

Parliament is “tightening rules” in a bid to avoid disruptions similar to the one endured by President Jacob Zuma in June, Speaker Baleka Mbete said on Thursday.

“After an incident, as you are aware, the last question day of the President would not be proceeded with because of disruptions in the House. We convened the Rules Committee … to make sure that it provides for necessary rules and mechanisms in order for Parliament to deliver on its constitutional expectations,” Mbete said in Pretoria.

She said the Rules Committee discussed the need to have such rules examined on a technical level.

“At this point, unfortunately we not in a position to share with you a text of what the rules will be. They need to be seen by the appropriate structures first,” said Mbete.

A Rules Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

On June 18, the House was adjourned after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) disrupted Zuma’s presidential reply session in the National Assembly by confronting him about the cost of his Nkandla home.

Zuma was due in the chamber next for another question session in August.

At the time, Mbete adjourned proceedings after the EFF chanted “pay back the money” and demanded Zuma declare when he would reimburse a portion of the R246 million of taxpayers’ money used on the Nkandla project, despite a report by the minister of police that all the upgrades were of a security nature and the president was therefore absolved of any liability.

Almost all other opposition parties supported the EFF’s calls that Zuma be held accountable for the Nkandla scandal, but said it should not be done at the expense of other critical questions put to Zuma.

The EFF refused to let the sitting go ahead if Zuma did not answer on Nkandla, drawing harsh criticism from the other opposition parties and in the end Mbete adjourned proceedings, later explaining that calling in the security forces to remove the errant MPs was never an option.

 

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