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Parliament: Regulating public access application not urgent

Parliament says a court application about the public's right to see live visuals of disturbances isn’t urgent.

FILE: Members of the Parliament look on as members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, wearing red uniforms, clash with security forces during South African President's State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 12 February, 2015.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has argued a court application about the public's right to see live visuals of grave disturbances in Parliament is not urgent.

Yesterday, judgment was reserved in the application for an urgent interim order compelling Parliament to ensure an uninterrupted audio and visual feed during proceedings - and that during incidents of grave disorder, a wide-angle shot of the chamber will be broadcast.

Five organisations including Primedia Broadcasting brought the application after visuals of EFF MPs being physically removed by police and security personnel during the State of the Nation Address last month were not broadcast live.

With an eye on President Jacob Zuma's question and answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday, the applicants want assurances that Parliament will broadcast incidents of grave disorder or unparliamentarily behaviour.

The applicants' lawyer Steven Budlender says the public has the right to see how their MPs behave, because having access to this information would allow citizens to make informed decisions about who they vote for.

Parliament's lawyer however argued that the matter was not urgent and that such an order would infringe on the principle of separation of powers.

Jeremy Gauntlett told the court parliament had a right and responsibility to control unrestrained situations where hate speech might be broadcast or where there could be violence.