Parliament tarnished by 'rampant anarchy', says ANC

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani says the 'stunts have sought to erode the integrity and the confidence South Africans have in Parliament'. (David Harrison, M&G)

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani says the 'stunts have sought to erode the integrity and the confidence South Africans have in Parliament'. (David Harrison, M&G)

The first six months of the fifth Parliament were tarnished by “rampant anarchy, disorder and roguishness”, ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said on Wednesday, as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) headed to the Constitutional Court to challenge Parliament over the suspension of its MPs.

“The unquenchable thirst for headlines by some opposition parties through relentless stunts, rather than substance and robust debates that would take our country and her people forward, has unfortunately seen the regression of this six-month-old fifth Parliament,” Sizani said in the ANC’s parliamentary caucus year end statement.

“All these [stunts] have sought to erode the integrity and the confidence South Africans have in Parliament.”

Parliament’s rules and the country’s laws would ensure that unruly behaviour did not go unpunished, said Sizani. 

“The law and rules must be applied consistently, fairly, fearlessly and without prejudice to protect this institution from decay.”

Rules and the law
“The recent penalties against 20 EFF MPs, which follows a thorough, open and fair process, is demonstrative of an institution that is fearless and non-partisan in its enforcement of the rules and the law to protect its integrity.”

Parliament suspended the MPs for disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s question time in the National Assembly on August 21.

The EFF’s legal team originally prepared its case against Parliament to be heard in the Cape Town high court, but the party is now preparing to challenge Parliament’s suspension of its MPs in the Constitutional Court instead.

“The case is not happening. No [high court] judge will hear us,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. “We are now preparing to go the Constitutional Court.”

Parliament released a statement last week in which it indicated that it would oppose the EFF’s application on Wednesday.

But the case was not on the court roll and no judge had been assigned to hear the case.

“We will release a statement later today [Wednesday], as soon as we’ve filed our papers in the Constitutional Court,” Ndlozi said.

Consistent application
The ANC said it would push for the rules to be applied consistently. “Our rules and laws have teeth and thus must bite.
This must be done consistently for as long as such conduct rears its ugly head.”

Several sittings of the National Assembly this year have descended into chaos, most notably the one of August 21.

On November 28, EFF leader Julius Malema, chief whip Floyd Shivambu, Godrich Gardee, Mpho Ramakatsa, Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala and Ndlozi were suspended without pay for 30 days, after Parliament’s powers and privileges committee conducted a hearing into their behaviour. 

EFF MPs Elsabe Louw, Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela, Nthako Matiase, Hlengiwe Maxon, Magdalene Moonsamy and Andile Mngxitama were suspended for a fortnight without pay, and eight more EFF MPs were ordered to apologise verbally to the House.

The 30-day suspensions expire on December 28, while the 14-day suspensions expire on December 12.

The police stormed into the National Assembly during another sitting in November to remove EFF MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela, who refused to leave the House when ordered to do so by the presiding officer.

Four Democratic Alliance MPs and two police officers were hurt during the ensuing scuffle. – Sapa

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