Why Andile Mngxitama was suspended for five days - Parliament

EFF MP acted in a disorderly manner, defied the presiding officer, refused to withdraw from NA when instructed to do so


Parliament, 8 November 2014 - Certain news headlines have depicted the Speaker of the National Assembly as being partisan and irrational. The reports could not be further from the truth and highlight the need for not only our media but the general public to be well informed about Parliamentary processes and the manner of conducting debate in Parliament (see Witness report).

Taking into account the latest newspaper articles published on 7 November 2014, the EFF has further attempted to distract the media from the core business of the National Assembly, culminating in misinformation of the public.

The question that arises is, why was Honourable Mngxitama of the EFF this week suspended for a maximum of 5 days by the Speaker? The answer is simple and it is premised on parliamentary procedural requirements.     

It is important to indicate that Honourable Mngxitama was not suspended for the motion of the EFF. The member acted in a disorderly manner, including acting in defiance of the presiding officer. When the member was ordered to withdraw from the House for this behaviour, in terms of National Assembly Rule 51, he refused, again disregarding the authority of the presiding officer. It was in light of this sustained unruly behaviour that the Speaker invoked National Assembly Rule 52 and suspended the member.

Did the Speaker lose it? No she did not. She was decisively following and accurately implementing the rules and orders of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly recently adopted Guidelines on Motions Without Notice. For a motion given without notice to be adopted there must be unanimous concurrence by all the members present. These should not be motions of a party political nature, among other things. In terms of the Guidelines, motions are circulated before hand and parties may object on political or procedural grounds. A member then reads the motion, before it is put to the House.

The Guidelines are clear that motions that do not comply with the rules of debate, including Rule 63 which refers to offensive and unbecoming language shall be ruled out of order. There is therefore no basis for expecting a presiding officer to put a motion for decision, which is clearly procedurally out of order, and breaches among others the Rule on unbecoming and offensive language.

Apart from reflecting on the character and integrity of another member, which cannot be done without a substantive motion, a motion that was relatively the same in substance was read out and rejected the previous day. So, the motion by the EFF was on all accounts out of order and the Speaker's refusal to put it for decision was an indication that the exercise by the member of the EFF was a violation of the Rules, including the Guidelines for motions without notice.

The presiding officer is elected to ensure that the House conducts its business in an orderly fashion within the parameters created by the Constitution and the Rules. When the Guidelines were adopted, it could never have been the intention that the Rules and Orders that form the basis for parliamentary procedure would not apply to these motions.

In the media's quest to formulate sensational headlines, its imperative that they not lose sight of their primary role, of ensuring that they factually inform the South African citizenry about the House proceedings.

Statement issued by Parliament, November 8 2014

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter