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Uproar in Western Cape legislature after speaker temporarily vacates seat during sitting

The speaker vacating his seat was followed by a barrage of interjections from ANC members all wanting to know why the speaker had left the chamber. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

The speaker vacating his seat was followed by a barrage of interjections from ANC members all wanting to know why the speaker had left the chamber. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 27, 2022

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Cape Town - The legislature was in uproar during its sitting on Thursday afternoon as members of the ANC and the EFF made statements in the chamber on the hot potato issue of Speaker Masizole Mnqasela’s ongoing struggles with his sponsoring party, the DA.

The issues began at the very beginning of the session, when the Speaker excused himself from the chamber barely 10 minutes into the session after Premier Alan Winde answered the first of a scheduled seven questions from members.

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It has been regular practice for the speaker to vacate his seat during the Thursday afternoon sitting, but members of the opposition ANC thought there was something sinister afoot.

Announcing he was about to vacate his seat, the speaker gestured at the DA benches and said: "I'm going to ask for some help there, temporary chairperson, are you able to help please?“

A minute later he was replaced on the chair by temporary chairperson Andricus van der Westhuizen (DA) and walked out as the ANC’s Mesuli Kama was asking the premier a question on the Safety Plan.

The speaker vacating his seat was followed by a barrage of interjections from ANC members all wanting to know why the speaker had left the chamber.

Van der Westhuizen ruled that the interjections were not points of order and asked Winde to continue with his replies to members, but shortly after Winde began speaking again, Van der Westhuizen alerted him to the fact that the 20 minutes usually reserved for questions was over.

Winde then left the chamber but not before the leader of the opposition, the ANC’s Cameron Dugmore, had accused him of disrespecting members by never sitting in the chamber after he answered his questions.

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Later in the session, deputy chief whip of the ANC Khalid Sayed read a statement in which he said the ANC hadn’t been surprised to hear reports that Winde had demanded that the speaker resign from his post and said that the DA should educate its premier on the democratic rule of law and the separation of powers.

About two hours after he vacated the chamber, Mnqasela returned to the chamber and assumed the speaker’s chair and Van der Westhuizen returned to the government benches.

Sayed rose again on a point of order and said that the speaker should have let Van der Westhuizen continue as temporary chairperson until his issues with the DA were resolved, but Mnqasela ruled him out of order.

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“I do not want any further deliberations on this matter. There is no agenda called the speaker,” Mnqasela said.

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Cape Argus

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