Lechesa Tsenoli's conduct unconstitutional - EFF

Fighters says Deputy Speaker's outrageous conduct a pathetic attempt to suppress legitimate and important debate


Thursday, May 24, 2018

The EFF strongly condemns the unconstitutional and unparliamentary behaviour of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mr. Lechesa Tsenoli during the Presidency budget vote. His outrageous conduct was nothing but pathetic attempt to suppress legitimate and important debate in the National Assembly, and it must be condemned in strongest terms.

Section 58 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provide members of the National Assembly with freedom of speech in the Assembly and in its committees. The Constitution further states that members of the National Assembly are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages for anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Assembly or any of its committees or anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Assembly or any of its committees.

Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act 4 of 2004 provides privileges and immunities for members in a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces as they have before the Assembly or the Council. So, there is no law or rule which prevents members of Parliament from saying that ministers of deputy ministers are defending corruption or call our people to occupy empty land closer to a place of work, schools, recreational facilities and places of worship. It is a point of debate and a matter of difference which if the Deputy Speaker was not a presiding officer and an ordinary member of the NA, would have been free to debate.

The role of the presiding officers according to the rules of the National Assembly is to ensure that Parliament is a national forum for public consideration of all issues, ensure members participate fully in the proceedings of the Assembly and must act fairly and impartially and apply the rules with due regard to ensuring the participation of members of all parties in the manner consistent with democracy. The conduct of the Deputy Speaker boarders in the suppression of freedom of speech, obstruction of member’s participation in the Assembly and criminality.

The EFF is going to write to the Rules Committee of the National Assembly to report the conduct of the Deputy Speaker and call on him to withdraw and resist the temptation in future to behave in such an unconstitutional and unparliamentary manner. If the Rules Committee fails to appreciate the severity of the Deputy Speaker unbecoming conduct, we will be left with no choice but to approach the court. We will further table a motion to remove the Deputy Speaker from office by resolution in terms of Section 52(4) of the Constitution. We cannot allow the National Assembly to degenerate into chaos because presiding officers want to impede with the debates, suppress freedom of speech and make participation of members difficult in the Assembly.

Statement issued by the Economic Freedom Fighters, 24 May 2018