Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise has declined Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s request to ask an “urgent question” at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s question-and-answer session taking place in parliament on Thursday.
Maimane wanted a question answered even though it was submitted after the deadline, which was August 5.
He argued the question he wanted to ask was based on reports which only came to light after this date, adding that the matter was urgent and his question must be answered on Thursday as it “relates directly to the president’s constitutional powers that may have been influenced”.
The question related to recent leaked emails from the CR17 campaign, which led to Ramaphosa becoming president of the ANC and subsequently the country.
Maimane wanted to ask if ministers who had been shown to have received payments from the camp received their positions due to their work on the campaign.
“According to Rule 141 of the National Assembly rules, a member who want to put an urgent question must deliver a signed copy of the question to the speaker before noon on the day preceding the question day on which the question is to be answered, clearly indicating that it is an urgent question. An urgent question, if approved, takes precedence over all other questions on the relevant question day,” Modise wrote in her response.
“Furthermore, the National Assembly Guide, 2004, specifies that when considering and application for an urgent question it must be dealt with as if it is a request for a debate on an urgent matter of national importance.
“Accordingly, the request should not be granted if the matter can be considered by some other means in the near future.
“As Maimane’s question may therefore be dealt with as a written question, the application was not granted,” Modise concluded.
Ministers named in recent media reports over the past weekend include Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya, Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, and Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa.
According to Maimane, Ramaphosa must be able to give “rational reasons” for his cabinet appointments and so should use this Q&A session to “clarify to the people of South Africa and unequivocally state whether these individuals’ payment for work on his campaign is related – in any way whatsoever – to his decision to appointment them as ministers”.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)