Party whips tackle Parly disruptions by members of public

Party whips want Parliament to take tougher action against members of the public who misbehave during sittings of the house.

FILE: An altercation broke out between Black First, Land First head Andile Mngxitama and Standing Committee on Finance chairperson Yunus Carrim during public hearings on economic transformation on 3 May 2017. Picture: Twitter/@DavidMaynier.

PARLIAMENT - Party whips want Parliament to take tougher action against members of the public who misbehave during sittings of the house or its committees.

This follows the disruption of a parliamentary committee involving the Black First, Land First (BLF) grouping earlier this month and another incident involving people sitting in the public gallery in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The issue came up during a meeting of the National Assembly’s programming committee on Thursday morning.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen says the matter’s becoming urgent.

“It isn’t just the BLF, on Wednesday in the National Assembly chamber we had a situation where members of the gallery were making threatening gestures to members of Parliament while the debate was underway. For me, the disturbing thing was there were no protection service officers in the gallery.”

Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Narend Singh said: “It was really ugly that we could have an altercation in that format, although not physical, between members of the gallery who just carried on with contempt and members of parliament. It’s just not acceptable.”

Meanwhile, house chairperson Cedric Frolick says a letter will be sent to the BLF spelling out what is expected of members of the public in Parliament.

Frolick says part of the problem is the lack of enforcement of rules already in place.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)