Parliament says all Members of the National Assembly (NA) will be expected to be physically present in the House when a motion of no confidence in National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will be debated on March 22.
It says the same voting method will be used as the one that was used during the processing of Section 89 Independent Panel report involving President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The National Programming Committee, which met on Thursday decided to shift the date of the sitting from March 7 to March 22 due to the unavailability of the City Hall next Tuesday.
The Economic Freedom Fighters ( EFF) brought the vote of no confidence motion to remove Mapisa-Nqakula from office. This after she called the state security forces to enter the Chamber to remove EFF MPs who stormed the stage during Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address.
The EFF disagreed with the shifting of the date for the debate. The EFF Whip Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi was unhappy with the explanation that the City Hall is unavailable
“Honourable (Natasha) Ntlangwini is correct to say that there are so many avenues that can be explored by Parliament. It’s not only the City Hall And it means that whenever we are going to have plans as Parliament and when the City Hall is not available, we are going to postpone our work as Parliament as if we have signed an agreement with the City Hall that come rain or sunshine our work must be there. Not, it’s not. We have raised this issue during the Chief Whip’s Forum to say that you tagging us under one venue which is not possible and is not making a logic any sense.”
ANC Member of the Committee, Hope Papo, reminded the EFF that the majority decision in the committee prevails.
“The issue of us not agreeing, but the majority of us agree on the 22nd of March should have to be the day. So, if there was resistance that there should not be a sitting, and we have made it clear that we are going to have an open vote, if you don’t want to accept I think that has been on record, but I think to say that is unconstitutional, that can only be proved by a caught of law, but for us here who have got rules to apply, we are saying that 22nd will be the day for the debate and we are all going to vote in open vote. It’s not only us. The other parties are agreeing with an open vote. The DA agrees, the FF-(PLUS) agrees, the IFP agrees which have spoken here. So, Parliament must operate on the basis that we are going to have that debate on the 22nd. And majority views run Parliament. There is no institution which is run by… unless we are stopped by a court of law.”
The EFF Chief Whip, Floy Shivambu entered the fray, and disagreed, saying the National Legislature has an obligation to run its business unhindered.
“Don’t underestimate that we as Parliament carry an obligation to all times be able to conduct parliamentary business. The motion of no confidence is part of what we are going to deal with. It’s the Speaker today, it can be the President tomorrow. Parliament must be in an agile way to meet at all times. We have got an obligation. Parliament was burnt two years ago. We have got an obligation as Parliament to meet when this is required. And there is nothing unlawful with the motion of No Confidence against the Speaker. It’s as per the rules of the National Assembly. It’s allowed in terms of the rules and then to come with mechanical reasons, you are trying to undermine the law. It’s opportunistic and wrong. And it’s opportunistic for members to come here and present it as if it’s permissible to just want to undermine the law because of a logistical issue. It’s not permissible.”
House Chairperson of Committees, Cedrick Frolick who chaired the Programme Committee meeting on the issue, reflected on all the views and the final decision.
“We have heard all the views. And there has been reinforcement. I have given the opportunity for members to express themselves on this matter. Right at the beginning Mr (Masisulele) Xaso gave a report. And the emerging view from most of the parties with the exception of the EFF is that a physical sitting must take place. Now based on the report we have received from the Secretary to the National Assembly, a physical sitting can only take place on the 22nd. And we can go into the merits and demerits as to why the case or not the case. The fact of the matter is based on the report (that) on the 22nd, the City Hall will be available. I must also indicate to members that the logistical arrangements apart from the necessary parliamentary processes that must be followed, to put a sitting of a National Assembly in place is not simply arriving on the day and saying we are having a sitting. There are a lot of things that go into it, it also goes with a lot of effort and also to get all the members of parliament to attend and to have a seat.”
Frolick emphasised the urgency to have the motion debated: “The IFP chief Whip indicates that as long as it takes place during this term before we rise at the end of March, it is important to do so and not to delay it inevitable. That is also the view of the Honourable (Corne) Mulder who clearly articulated his view. And the matter of a physical sitting has the support of political parties. So, what is rational to deal with, what is practically possible. And from what I have heard from the contributions with the exception of the EFF is that there is broad support for the programme and to indicate that the date would be the 22nd and it will be in the City Hall.”
Frolick concluded, “Now the Deputy Speaker has dealt with the matter because we do not expect the Speaker to be dealing with this matter. And the Deputy Speaker is not available on this platform, but in the report at the beginning also, there is a report from Mr Xaso that says that it will be open voting that will take place. And that is a matter that you can discuss further if you want to challenge the decision of the Deputy Speaker or whatever you are welcome to explore those avenues. But the broad consensus here is, once again with the exception of the EFF is that we have this item on the agenda, it is moved to the 22nd and in future as honourable (Minah) Lesoma has indicated, it comes to matters such as this we must first check the availability of a venue were all members of parliament can be accommodated before finalizing dates in the Programme Committee.”
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