Parliament denies accusations of bias
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Cape Town - Parliament on Sunday dismissed accusations by opposition parties that the presiding officers were biased and protecting President Jacob Zuma.
“Presiding officers note the repeated, unfounded assertions where, as they manage the business of Parliament, they are often accused of either protecting the president or acting in a biased, partisan manner,” Parliament said in a statement.
“In examining these issues objectively, it is quite clear that they are without basis and are not supported by fact.”
There had been unprecedented events which had the potential to impact negatively on Parliament's ability to carry out its mandate, it said.
These events were unique to the fifth Parliament.
Parliament said MPs had freedom of speech subject to parliamentary rules and orders and the rules had to be respected.
“Disruptions and disorder can only contribute to undermining Parliament's constitutional functions.
“The matter of the decorum of Parliament continues to receive attention.”
Opposition parties met with Speaker Baleka Mbete earlier this week.
Parliament said during the meeting parties agreed to maintain decorum.
“The presiding officers are confident that current engagements between the presiding officers and party leaders will go a long way in affirming the integrity of Parliament and ensuring that it is able to function.
“At the last meeting there was recognition of the need to allow matters currently before the courts to run their course.”
It said the presiding officers were committed to that.
The Democratic Alliance has approached the Western Cape High Court to challenge the constitutional validity of section 11 of the Powers and Privileges Act, which allows the Speaker to summon the police into the National Assembly.