Parliament – A parliamentary debate on the loss of decorum in the legislature on Tuesday began with Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli harshly admonishing howling MPs that they were undermining it from the outset.
“You are despicable,” Tsenoli snapped as MPs interrupted Kenneth Meshoe from the African Christian Democratic Party, who brought the motion for the debate.
The debate took place without the Economic Freedom Fighters who were still serving a mandatory five-day suspension from Parliament after trying to prevent President Jacob Zuma from speaking during his quarterly question and answer session and subsequently being pysically ejected from the National Assembly chamber.
Opposition MPs criticised Julius Malema’s party for sittings routinely descending into chaos, but said at the end of the day the fault lay with the ANC as it had abused parliamentary processes to protect Zuma.
James Selfe, the chairman of the Democratic Alliance’s federal executive, said Parliament had achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the country’s most popular soap opera.
“The parliamentary channel has more viewers than 7de Laan… it is a sort of sordid opera that requires an age restriction.”
Selfe added that while his party abhorred the conduct of the EFF, the “arrogance of the majority party” was the root cause. Both the ANC and Zuma were found by the Constitutional Court to have flouted the law by not implementing the Public Protector’s directives that he reimburse the state for additions to his Nkandla home.
The president should have resigned and, failing that, the ANC should have supported an opposition motion to impeach him, Selfe added.
That neither happened, he said, “fatally undermined the credibility of this Parliament and led to the contempt many of us feel about President Zuma”.
The point was supported by Corne Mulder from the Freedom Front Plus, who proposed that the EFF’s salaries be docked every time they disrupted a parliamentary sitting but added that ultimately the president and the ruling party had robbed parliament of the public’s respect.
UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said it was regrettable that MPs were obliged to waste time discussing their own conduct rather than debating how best the country should be governed.
“That is the most unfortunate part”.
African News Agency