DA to approach High Court on unlawful force in Parliament
Note to Editors: The following statement was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at a press briefing at Parliament this morning. Maimane was joined by the Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, James Selfe MP.
Last night was a sad night for South Africa, and can only have left all South Africans disheartened and angry.
The disturbing violence in the House showed quite clearly the true state of our nation – a deeply unpopular government at war with itself has broken Parliament, and has broken the Constitution. The Democratic Alliance cannot, and will not, let the ANC break South Africa. South Africans were rightly appalled at the conduct of their Parliament and their government last night. They deserve a new, DA-led government that puts them and their futures first.
Last night, many more people saw the true and ugly face of the ANC. The mission to remove this President and this ANC government from office is now more urgent than ever. Our democracy depends on it.
There will be some who still, even after last night, believe that the ANC can be saved. To them I say now - The ANC cannot revive itself. It is morally and intellectually dead. No matter who leads the ANC, it will still focus on the few, at the expense of the many.
Last night was also a wakeup call for those who want change. We cannot wait any longer, or rely on the collapse of the ANC. We need a movement of people who love South Africa and hate seeing it go this way, a movement of people that stands united behind an idea of what South Africa can be - not behind a political label or a policy obsession. No ideas can be too big, or audacious, for us to consider. If we are going to win, we need massive, far reaching realignment. Everything is “on the table”.
I want every South African to know what is happening here in Parliament, and how the violence and corruption here, is keeping them locked in poverty there. I am personally going to criss-cross the country and visit as many towns and villages as I can to get the word out: this is not about our party or any party. This is about rescuing our country from the despair we saw on display last night. I am calling on all South Africans, on other opposition party leaders, on civil society - let’s organise, get to work, raise money and drive the effort to save Nelson Mandela’s dream.
The President’s address itself – delivered to a half empty parliament – was defensive, and racially divisive, lacking any new ideas. A tired rehash of old, failed economic policies – repackaged as “radical” - which have failed our young people who make up almost two thirds of the 9 million South Africans without work.
The President spoke at lengths about “radical” economic transformation, yet his SONA was anything but radical. The ANC’s “radical economic transformation” is racialised, divisive and anti-poor, designed to serve and empower the elite, the connected few, and the top 1% in his own party.
The ANC’s idea of radical economic transformation will only divide us further and take us backwards as a country. We must stand up to the ANC.
Change is coming, if we work together now.
We have this morning instructed our lawyers to file an application in the Western Cape High Court seeking a declaration that the deployment of SANDF members on the Precinct for non-ceremonial purposes was unconstitutional and unlawful, so as to ensure the gradual securitisation and militarisation of Parliament is halted once and for all.
The presence of the South African National Defence Force, in a way that far exceeded a mere ceremonial role, can never be tolerated again. Armed Military Police, with live ammunition, on the precinct of Parliament is completely untenable in a Constitutional democracy. Further, the excessive use of force by the Parliamentary security forces, the use of pepper spray in the public gallery, and the Speaker’s flouting of proper procedure for the expulsion of Members from the Chamber; should all be declared unlawful and unconstitutional.
Our court action is to ensure that the integrity of parliament is restored, and that we can make the work of Parliament about the people of South Africa once more. It ought to be an institution in which we can fight for the poor and the excluded. And an institution which vigorously holds power to account.
We know that it was not our members who were expelled last night. Despite this, it is still of concern to us. As the ANC becomes increasingly desperate to cling to power, the distinction between our Members and other opposition Members in the eyes of the security forces becomes less relevant. We must all defend each other in the dangerous period ahead, and we must work together to unseat this venal government.
Over the coming weeks I will personally be visiting dozens of towns to take this message to where it counts the most: the homes of South Africans. I want to tell them about the DA’s commitment to improving the life chances of a generation of young black South Africans who have been let down and locked out by the ANC. My mission for 2017 is to take our ideas for rescuing this lost generation to every corner of the country, and to discuss it with those most affected by the failure of this Parliament to do its job.
This year’s State of the Nation Address will go down in history as a black mark on our young democracy. From here, the DA is focused on one thing only: unseating the ANC. We must do it now, before it is too late.
Issued by the DA, 10 February 2017