The Democratic Alliance (DA) has suspended MP Dianne Kohler Barnard for five days for swearing in the National Assembly, the party said on Wednesday.
“After consultation with our Parliamentary leader, Athol Trollip, I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Max Sisulu, to notify him that, in light of her recent conduct in the House, the DA has acted to suspend Dianne Kohler Barnard with immediate effect, for five days,” DA chief whip Ian Davidson said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I have further requested that, on the first sitting day of Parliament, after her return to duty, Ms Kohler Barnard address the house and apologise unconditionally for her words, something to which she has agreed.” A copy of her apology had also been sent to the speaker.
Kohler Barnard would be suspended from February 17 to 23.
Kohler-Barnard was heard saying “fuck” in the National Assembly during a walkout by the DA and the Congress of the People (Cope) in support of Cope MP Mluleki George.
George was ordered to leave after refusing to withdraw his statement that the government was leading the country into lawlessness.
In a statement released just minutes before the DA’s, the ANC chief whip, Mathole Motshekga, called on the DA and Parliament to take action against Kohler Barnard.
“The DA must come out and publicly condemn the behaviour,” said spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.
“The office of the chief calls on the leadership of the Democratic Alliance to break its silence and publicly denounce its filthy-mouthed Member of Parliament, Dianne Kohler Barnard, for bellowing unprintable obscenities in the National Assembly on Tuesday,” said Mothapo.
“There is absolutely no justification for such vulgarity, regardless of how discontented Kohler Barnard was with the deputy speaker’s decision.”
Mothapo said the DA’s silence sent a “disturbing” message to the public that such conduct was acceptable and that the party saw nothing wrong with it.
“Such behaviour tarnishes the image of Parliament and undermines the respect the people have in this important institution,” he said.
“We cannot allow a situation whereby unruly parliamentarians turn the institution into a shebeen. The DA must come out and publicly condemn its behaviour.”
According to Davidson, “Her suspension means her duties as a member of Parliament are frozen for that period and, as such, that she vacate the Parliamentary precinct and suspend her related activities.”
He said the DA viewed Kohler Barnard’s conduct in a serious light.
“The DA believes in accountability and consequences, and that this action demonstrates our commitment to those principles. We challenge the ruling party to follow suit,” he said.
Davidson accused the ANC of failing to act on statements by its MPs, among others, accusing the DA of being “treasonous”, calling labour brokers “slave traders” and “human traffickers” and calling former DA leader Tony Leon a “lance corporal in a helicopter above the streets of Soweto, firing tear gas and bullets at the harmless students”.
“None of these statements — libellous, racist, and defamatory — were met with any serious condemnation by the ruling party and certainly no decisive action [was taken].” — Sapa