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Parly drafts interim rules to govern National Assembly

Opposition parties say they welcome any rule which will allow for robust debate without being kicked out.

A screen grab of President Jacob Zuma addressing parliament on 18 February 2016 during his reply to the State of the Nation debate. Picture: YouTube
President Jacob Zuma,Democratic Alliance,EFF,National Assembly,Economic Freedom Fighters EFF,Democratic Alliance DA MP,EFFANC clashes,Parliamentary Assembly
Local

JOHANNESBURG – Parliament said it has drafted interim rules that will govern the National Assembly while it works towards permanently implementing new guidelines, to regulate disruption in the house.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address was interrupted after police stormed the house to remove Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) after they disrupted his speech.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) took the matter to court, which ruled in its favour.

On Friday, the Constitutional Court ordered that section 11 of the Powers and Privileges Act, which grants the speaker the right to eject MPs, is unconstitutional.

In the judgement, it was also held that the section will no longer apply to members of parliament but only to members of public visiting the National Assembly.

Spokesperson Johnny de Lange said, “Parliament has drafted interim rules to regulate disruptions in Parliament, so we’ve already going to add before the judgement, and provided for those rules accordingly. Soon now those rules will be made part of permanent rules of Parliament.” 

DA said a Constitutional Court ruling preventing police from removing MPs from the National Assembly, will allow for robust and confident debate on contentious issues facing the country, including the controversial Gupta family and Cabinet appointments.

The DA took the issue to court last year, after EFF MPs were removed from Parliament, for interrupting President Zuma’s State of the Nation Address. 
 
The party’s deputy chief whip Michael Waters said the party feels vindicated.

“There are many contentious issues in South Africa like the nuclear arms deal, the involvement of the Guptas and the appointment of Cabinet ministers.” 

At the same time, Congress of the People has welcomed the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of the speakers appeal with cost, saying it highlights what it calls the arrogance and undemocratic nature of the ANC. 
 
But the party said it will not tolerate any unruly behaviour in Parliament that incapacitates proceedings.


(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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