DA no longer recognises Mbete as Speaker
14 November 2014
Events in Parliament yesterday represent a turning point for our democracy and has fundamentally changed the DA's approach to Parliament. Baleka Mbete lost control of the House and destroyed her credibility as the Speaker. Accordingly, we will cease to recognise her authority as Speaker.
Every time she presides over the House, the DA will only send its Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip and those members participating in debates.
President Zuma and Baleka Mbete have taken us to the verge of a Constitutional crisis. Parliament cannot effectively scrutinise the actions of the Executive. They have consistently manipulated and undermined the rules of the House to protect President Zuma from his constitutional obligation to account to the people of South Africa.
The facts are as follows:
President Zuma refuses to come to Parliament to answer questions, despite rule 111 (1)(a) which states that the President must answer questions in the House once per term and despite his constitutional obligation to do so (section 55).
Baleka Mbete has consistently favoured the ANC over opposition MPs and is clearly executing Luthuli House's agenda. We have said from the start that her position as the Chairperson of the ANC NEC is a clear conflict of interest. She abused her position in the Chair yesterday by manipulating the purpose of rule 2 to shut down the opposition and shield the ANC.
The Speaker has sanctioned the use of riot police inside Parliament to assault opposition MPs. It must be remembered that the SAPS are a branch of State. Their presence in Parliament is therefore a breach of the separation of powers and the sanctity of the National Assembly.
ANC MPs have become increasingly aggressive. Minister Lindiwe Zulu, for example, was caught on video physically attacking an opposition MP. She also untruthfully denied it in the House.
We have a constitutional duty to scrutinise and oversee Executive action. But we can only do this in the context of a functional and constructive Parliament.
I have written to the leader of government business, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, demanding that he take steps to restore order in the House. Specifically we demand that:
An urgent meeting be held between the Deputy President, myself and the Chief Whip of the official opposition to discuss the abuse of the Parliament by the ANC.
At its next sitting, that he supports the passing of a motion of no confidence in the Speaker, and that Parliament elects a new Speaker.
At its next sitting, the he supports the election of a member of the opposition as one of the presiding officers to restore objectivity in the position.
That the use of riot police in the chamber be outlawed that he undertakes to ensure that riot police never again be allowed into the Chamber. We call for an IPID inquiry into the use of riot police in Parliament on 21 August and 13 November 2014.
The ANC lost the debate yesterday and responded with violence. Many observers are left wondering what will happen when the ANC one day loses an election.
The ANC leadership in Parliament has failed in its duty to ensure that the institution of Parliament is respected by the Executive and members alike. It is now incumbent on the leader of government business to work with us to restore the credibility of Parliament.
Statement issued by Mmusi Maimane MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, November 14 2014
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