File Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA
File Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA

EFF calls for urgent re-opening of parliament to hold govt accountable during lockdown

By Bongani Hans Time of article published May 16, 2020

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Durban -  THE EFF wants Parliament to urgently re-open and hold a sitting in Pretoria despite the lockdown regulations allows up to 50 people at a gathering. 

The call was made as the national legislature was busy organising a virtual sitting for MPs to ask oral questions to the executive.

It comes as legal threats have been mounted over the lockdown regulations by some sections of the society. 

In a statement, the Red Berets charged that President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet have not been held accountable since the announcement of the lockdown. 

"The EFF, therefore, calls for the immediate re-opening of Parliament with measures that will guarantee social distancing and safety of MPs and staff. Part of these measures should be to hold a parliamentary session in Pretoria because Gauteng province a significant majority of MPs will be able to gain convenient access to  Pretoria without the difficulties of using air travel," the party said, adding that Tshwane should be be the proposed venue because it is "spacious".

The EFF also said the virtual meetings were prone to disruption, hacking and time constraint limitations.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said her party also supported the sitting of the parliament. 

“I even wrote a letter to the speaker at the beginning of week telling her to hurry up and finalise the way in which parliament would sit,” she said.

She said some of the members would not be able to physically attend the sitting as they “are high risk” of infections

“I seconded to the speaker an example of how parliament could sit with a hybrid system, which would include people being in the house and other people being in virtual all at the same time because it works very well in other countries.

“This lack of accountability (by executive) cannot continue,” she said.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the parliament’s presiding officer could only allow the parliament through being informed about medical health care.

“The chamber is not conducive to social distancing,” he said.

“This needs to be structured and well planned for the safety, not only for MPs but parliamentary staff as well as you know that the eNCA cameramen, who they deploy to the parliament has passed on, we have staff members in the speaker’s office and the PAC has lost the staff member. The realities of Covid-19 are very much alive in parliament,” said Hlengwa.

ANC chief whip Penny Majodina said the multiparty forum, which is made up of representatives from all 14 parties, had recently agreed that this meeting should take place on May 27. 

She said the parties had suggested that there should be only 50 MPs from various parties to be accommodated in the house in order to allow them social distance while other MPs would have to participate virtually.

Majodina said the parliamentary multiparty whip forum, which she chairs, had agreed that under Level 4 of lockdown parliament should have oral questions on May 27 to hold the executive accountable.

“We cannot bring everybody back to parliament because of the restriction, and we agreed that we are going to have a hybrid session of up to 50 PMs who would be physically in the house.

“Other members would be linked virtually, and all 14 political parties would be given a proportional number of their MPs to attend physically,” said Majodina.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the parliament had taken care of the MPs safety, technology for the partial participation and some house rules had been amended to accommodate the situation created by the virus.

“We are ready in all respects, and everybody would be safe,” said Mothapo

Political Bureau

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