SAFTU's disruption of meeting condemned – Office of ANC Chief Whip

Party says behaviour was meant to bully members of parliament into toeing federation's line on Bills

ANC caucus condemns SAFTU disruption of Parliamentary committee meeting

17 May 2018

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip strongly condemns the actions of a group purported to have been members of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) who disrupted a portfolio committee meeting in Parliament yesterday, 16 May 2018. During a scheduled meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, a handful of individuals wearing SAFTU regalia stormed into the meeting which was scheduled to have clause by clause deliberations on the National Minimum Wage Bill; Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill; and Labour Relations Amendment Bill.

As the meeting was proceeding, they demanded to participate in the deliberations on the Bills. Although the Acting Chairperson of the Committee, comrade Sharome Van Schalkwyk explained to the protesters that they had a right to observe but could not participate as this was not a public hearing, they started chanting and banging on tables, resulting in damage to property. The despicable conduct of these protesters was also abusive as they threatened members of Parliament with violence. The committee had to call parliamentary protection services to remove the protesters from the venue. This incident left members of the committee distraught.

The thuggish behaviour of these protesters was deplorable and must be treated with the disdain it deserves. Their behaviour was meant to bully members of parliament to toe the SAFTU line on these Bills.

What makes their actions even more concerning is the fact that SAFTU, together with two other organisations were granted an opportunity to make oral presentations on these three Bills even though they had missed the deadline for request for oral presentations. In fact, oral presentations were reopened specifically because SAFTU had made a plea to the committee to be granted an opportunity to make oral submissions on these Bills.

It is therefore very unfortunate that they would stoop to illegal antics of disrupting committee meetings in their pursuit of political mileage at the expense of the work of parliament and the workers they claim to represent. This kind of political adventurism is an insult and an affront to our hard won democracy.

We call on the Speaker of the National Assembly to urgently look into this incident and evoke the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act to ensure that those found guilty of having disrupted and vandalised parliamentary property are held accountable, and possibly black listed from parliament.

As a consequence of these actions, we urge the committee to request that their deliberations on these Bills be held in closed meetings in order to protect members of parliament from possible future intimidation.

Issued by Nonceba Mhlauli, Spokesperson, Office of the ANC Chief Whip, 17 May 2018