National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise urges MPs to embrace decorum
Parliament - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said MPs should build bridges and have a system of Parliament, where parties speak to and respect one another.
“We try to disagree without being vulgar because if we don't do that, we lose the South African people - all of us equally,” Modise said.
She made the comments while conducting the orientation and induction programme for MPs, which ends on Friday.
The MPs are being taken through their constitutional mandate and responsibilities, MPs’ interests, ethics and code of conduct, and participation in plenary sittings of the two houses, among others.
Modise said public representatives should assume that they were voted into office by the entire electorate.
“If we assume we represent the people of South Africa, we must assume that each and every one of us is important, and each and every one of us represents a constituency that is important.
“If I represent my constituency, I must accord you the space to respect your own constituency,” she said.
Modise also urged MPs to focus on what was important, what South Africans expected from them and what the world wanted to see.
“The first thing that we must be aware of is that we don't represent ourselves, sitting on these benches. We represent all the people.”
Turning to the rules of the national legislature, Modise said Parliament, like all others in the world, was run on protocol, precedence, law, rules and procedures.
“If you return to Parliament, whether for the fourth or seventh time, we don't care. All we care (about) is that all understand the same rules so that we don't fight about interpretation.”
She told the scores of new and returning MPs that they had freedom of speech.
“If you think you are to stretch freedom of expression and speech, and diminish somebody else in the House, then you will fall foul of the rules of the House.”
Modise also said it was important to recognise that all parties had their mandate and that was why they got elected.
“No party mandate must render us paralysed. We must always try to find one another.”
Modise also emphasised the need for MPs to show respect to one another.
“There is always a fallacy that says when we are honourable, we are all equal. This is wrong. This is Africa. We respect. We respect age, young and old,” she said.
“It does not mean that we expect young people to be taken advantage (of) simply because they are young.”
Modise also warned the MPs against pre-occupying themselves with the parliamentary bars.
“Asseblief (please), they are not our priority. We are here to make laws.”
Modise urged MPs, when settling differences, to not allow “whatever it is we take to divide us”.
“We must never have a Parliament that is incoherent, that is the laughing stock of its own people, of Africa and the world. We are here as public representatives.”
Speaking at the rules meeting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), chairman Amos Masondo said they should make sure that the laws they made benefited the people.
“We have a responsibility to ensure these are implemented
“We must place the public at the centre of law-making and related processes.”
Masondo also urged NCOP permanent delegates to perform their duties with dedication and commitment.
“After five years, we must look at this moment with pride and say ‘I was a worthy delegate of the provinces’,” he said.