ANC MPs have insisted that red overalls worn by their Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) counterparts are now prohibited. And the ruling party has successfully fought against the use of secret ballots when making key decisions of Parliament, saying members are there to represent the party’s interests above all others.
In one of the clearest signs yet that ANC deployees in Parliament are implementing the party’s decision to squeeze the breakaway EFF and whip its MPs into line, senior ANC MPs have stated that they want to see evidence that their fellow deployees carry out the mandate in full.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakuda and ANC MPs Nyami Booi and Lemias Mashile banded together to fight for what they called a dignified dress code and against the EFF’s proposal for the use of secret ballots in key decision-making in Parliament.
The five-hour meeting of the parliamentary rules sub-committee meeting was influenced by the ANC’s irritation with the EFF dress code that is signified by workers’ overalls, but also by the breakaway party constantly challenging the ANC at any given opportunity in Parliament.
‘Rise to the occasion’
Booi told the meeting on Wednesday that the ANC would use its 62.3% majority representation to impose a parliamentary dress code that would ban EFF overalls, in line with a call by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting of November for party MPs to “rise to the occasion” and deal swiftly and firmly with their EFF counterparts.
ANC NEC members are generally irked by EFF MPs perceived to be disorderly and giving the ruling party a difficult time. At that ANC’s NEC meeting a discussion after President Jacob Zuma’s political overview concluded that being soft on the EFF was not helping the ruling party.
In speaking out against the use of a secret ballot in Parliament – proposed by EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu who said MPs should be allowed to vote with their conscience – Dlakuda said as members of the ruling party, they were deployed to represent the ANC’s views. “We are here to push the agenda and decisions of our parties and policies as such. We expect our members to follow the party line; it doesn’t matter how or when.”
“Whether they feel like it or not we force people to vote according to party lines. We don’t agree with the secret ballot,” she said.
Shivambu took on the ANC MPs, but was powerless against the ruling party’s higher representation.
MPs will now present to the National Assembly’s rules committee a proposal that overalls, hard hats, jeans, shorts and flip-flops are outlawed and that formal and semi-formal clothes as well as traditional outfits be adopted as the minimum dress code for Parliament.
‘We don’t wear makarapas’
A compromise would be made for Cuban and Madiba shirts as they are accepted as being decent.
Shivambu said his party would keep wearing overalls and hard hats to represent the working class, even after the multi-party committee had agreed to a proposal to ban the party’s “uniform”.
He said EFF would seek recourse in a court of law if necessary. “Yes forbid the vests, shorts and jeans. Bheki Cele comes in with a hat inside the house all the time. We don’t wear makarapas during sessions of Parliament.”
The ANC on the other hand argued that hard hats could be used as weapons and gumboots were meant for dancing. “It’s a simple principle, we are going to use our majority to arrive at what we think is good for society. All our parties are representing the same poor. Society and Parliament cannot be held at ransom,” Booi said.
Other opposition parties Inkatha Freedom Party and Congress of the People agreed that a minimum dress code was necessary.