Cape Town - Speaker of National Assembly Thandi Modise has on Tuesday urged parliamentarians to always display the highest levels of integrity.
Speaking during the budget vote debate for the national legislature, Modise said MPs should, among things, disclose their financial interests.
She also said there should be a review of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members' Interests in order to strengthen the ethical standards to which MPs should adhere to and also address the drafting irregularities in the code.
"The turn-around time of complaint handling and investigations in respect of allegations of breaches of the Code of Ethics must receive attention."
Modise said the staffing in the Office of the Registrar of Members' Interests has been identified for priority.
"It is anticipated that a dedicated staff will be appointed to conduct investigations and complaints handling," she said, adding that matters that were not finalized in the last term should be finalised.
"What should concern the committee is to maintain and preserve the integrity of Parliament. This we hope will be done as quickly as possible so that any member whose matters have not been concluded can find relief," Modise said.
She also said that the presiding officers would ensure the protection of all parliamentarians in the House.
"We will be referring serious offences to the relevant committees including the Committee on Powers, Privileges and Immunities. You may be aware that I have already referred to a subcommittee on the physical removal of a member from the chamber in terms of the rules the circumstances that led to the removal of members during the budget vote debate on public enterprises on 11 July."
Modise was referring to disruption of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget vote speech by EFF parliamentarians last week.
Modise also called on MPs to increase their ability to scrutinise, evaluate and monitor the services from all of cabinet portfolios and state-owned entities.
"Make laws, ask questions, make statements – represent the constituencies; understand the budget and follow the cents. There are no holy cows."
She urged ministers to attend parliamentary committee sessions and warned them to be careful of their statements and responses they made.
The Speaker added that the work done by the Joint Constitutional Review Committee on expropriation of land without compensation would be revived.
Modise said the quality of the support provided to MPs and the parliamentary structures should be reviewed and ensure that they were aligned to their needs.
"Parliament will, therefore, review the operating model and service offering to ensure equitable research services in order to enhance the depth, breadth, and quality of research support."