By Angela Quintal and Christelle Terreblanche
A Parliamentary committee intends to find out for itself whether South Africans are opposed to floor-crossing, and is expected to commission a nationwide survey on the practice this week.
This comes as a tiny floor-crossing party, the United Independent Front (UIF), bit the dust and lost its only remaining seat in Parliament on Friday.
Vytjie Mentor, chairperson of Parliament's private members' legislative proposals and public petitions committee, said at the weekend that MPs did not want to act without knowing "what all South Africans want".
"We want someone to do it in a meaningful way so that we can act on the basis of being well-informed," Mentor said.
She said this would also inform the ANC's own discussion on the issue at its national conference in December.
ACDP MP Steve Swart yesterday welcomed Mentor's decision to poll the public.
"I am totally convinced that South Africans are opposed. The constitution must be amended to abolish floor-crossing as soon as possible," Swart said.
He said the ACDP believed it was robbed of a National Council of Provinces seat because of floor-crossing two years ago, when its only seat in Parliament's second chamber went to the UIF instead, which had mustered three MPLs in the Western Cape Legislature.
However, this time around justice had been done, he said, and the ACDP had won the same seat back, with the collapse of the UIF in the Western Cape Legislature, when two of its three MPLs crossed to the ANC.
Swart said a member of the ACDP' s national executive, Wesley Douglas, would be sworn in as the new MP in the NCOP.
The UIF MP who has lost the seat, Neville Hendricks, said on Sunday that it was expected, although he had not been officially informed that he was no longer an MP, leaving the UIF without any representation in Parliament.
ID leader Patricia de Lille also welcomed Mentor' s comments that a survey would be commissioned.
"This is the first time in the history of our Parliament that we have conducted such a survey and the ID welcomes Ms Mentor' s initiative.
"We also hope that all the other parliamentary committees will follow the example of Ms Mentor, so that in future years we will truly be able to take Parliament to the people,' she said.