ACDP slams Parliament's 'toxic atmosphere' during SONA debate
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DURBAN - ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe told parliament on Tuesday that the dignity and decorum of the National Assembly had to be restored "as a matter of priority".
Meshoe made the statements during an oral reply session to president Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (SONA), delivered last week Thursday.
The president's SONA speech was delayed by over an hour as EFF MPs disrupted the House, as they had vowed to do. The EFF MPs eventually left the parliamentary precinct following a verbal tussle with National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise.
Meshoe said on Tuesday that he was disappointed "at the toxic atmosphere that some presiding officers have allowed to prevail in this House".
"The fact that rulings are made and not enforced and rulings are not consistent does not help to bring order in the House. So I want to appeal to all presiding officers to treat all members and all parties equally," said Meshoe.
"When one saw what happened on Thursday, for example, points of order that came from the EFF were entertained and there were many hands ‘this side’ that were ignored, and that is setting a bad precedent for the future. We want to say that what happened cannot and should not be allowed to continue."
Meshoe said the dignity and decorum of the House had to be restored as a matter of priority, particularly during joint sittings. He said MPs were "tired" of hearing National Assembly sessions being referred to as circuses and entertainment.
Turning to Ramaphosa's SONA speech, Meshoe said the president should not "shy away" from asking citizens to pray for the future of South Africa, given the numerous challenges the nation was facing.
He said the ACDP welcomed Ramaphosa's announcement that municipalities in good standing would be allowed to procure energy from independent power producers. But, he said, his party did not support the use of government employee pensions being used to bail out state owned entity (SOE) Eskom or any other struggling SOEs.
"How could it ever be in the best interests of pensioners, who are entitled to their well-earned pensions, to invest their money in bankrupt entities?"
Turning to the issue of crime, Meshoe told Ramaphosa to "just get the basics right".
"Way back in 1996, the ACDP recommended that bail be denied for certain categories of crimes such as murder and rape, particularly of children. We further proposed that parole should be scrapped altogether, and that heavier maximum sentences should be imposed on those found guilty of serious crimes."
Meshoe also said that the priorities of the department of basic education were "wrong".
"They should learn from countries that produce outstanding results in science and mathematics such as Japan, focus on correcting weaknesses in our education system, and then prioritise the importance of teaching the basics of reading with comprehension, writing, mathematics and computer skills.
"Because of the crises we face with literacy and numeracy in our schools, the ACDP wishes to implore the president to order the review of the comprehensive sexuality education curriculum, which is being piloted in a number of schools.
"Why should we as Africans accept a Western, [sexually promiscuous] curriculum being imposed on our children? While we support age-appropriate sex education, we reject the sexually explicit content and liberal agenda of UNESCO that is being introduced in a number of countries around the world."
Meshoe said South Africa was at a "critical stage", where strong leadership and hard decisions were necessary.
"The president reminded us that we can conquer all obstacles if we are united. We therefore call on this parliament to help rebuild the walls of our nation on the foundation of justice and righteousness, for 'blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, and the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance,'" ended Meshoe, quoting from the Christian scriptures.