Rocky start to Parliament debate on Scorpions Bills

The debate on the future of the Scorpions (the Directorate of Special Operations or DSO) got off to a rocky start in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon when Steve Swart of the African Christian Democratic Party asked National Assembly Speaker Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde to ask the 43 MPs who had fallen foul of the Scorpions to withdraw from the debate.

She declined, saying: “I have no statutory or rule basis for instructing a member not to participate in this debate. Members are sent to Parliament representing a constituency, who must not lightly be disenfranchised.”

Then, the new Minister of Safety and Security, Nathi Mthethwa, was invited to the podium to open the debate on the two Bills, but Tertius Delport, the Democratic Party spokesperson on justice, was instantly on his feet to protest that he had a number of amendments to the Bill that were on the order paper, and should be debated first.

His amendments would take the amalgamated unit made up of the DSO and the police’s organised crime unit out of the police and maintain them as an independent South African Bureau of Investigation.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde, however, would hear nothing of it. She said the amendments would undoubtedly be debated—but at the end, not at the beginning of the debate on the main text of the Bill.—I-Net Bridge

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