Constitutional court Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga has ruled that the application of Parliament’s Section 11 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities, which permits the Speaker of the National Assembly to call in the police into the house was unconstitutional.
Handing down the judgement together with Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and Justice Edwin Cameron on Friday, Justice Madlanga found that the act deprives Members of Parliament freedom of speech.
In the Constitutional Court’s majority judgment‚ Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga found that if the word “person” in the Act included a member of Parliament‚ the section was constitutionally invalid.
It also found the omission of the words “other than a member” after the word “person” in section 11 to be inconsistent with the Constitution.
The judgement reads:
“The majority judgment took the view that if the word ‘person’ in Section 11 of the Act includes members of Parliament, the section is constitutionally invalid.
Moreover, the judgment found that a consequence of the application of section 11 to members was that members could be deprived of further participation in parliamentary proceedings, thereby limiting their constitutionally guaranteed privilege of free speech in Parliament.”
“The judgment acknowledged that the limitation of members’ free speech maybe constitutionally permissible as otherwise Parliament might be incapacitated by unruly members.
But the limitation of the members’ privilege of free speech by means of an Act of Parliament was constitutionally impermissible,” Justice Madlanga said.
To recap, the aforementioned judgement typifies that any person other than a parliamentarian can be removed from Parliament for causing a disturbance.
Last year, the Democratic Alliance approached the Constitutional Court to confirm Western Cape High Court ruling that ordering security services to throw out Members of Parliament from the National Assembly was unconstitutional.
The move for the challenge gained more weight when Speaker Mbete ordered National Assembly security to bundle out Economic Freedom Fighters MPs from the House during the State of the Nation Address held in February 2015.
Prior to the MPs ignoble ejection, Mbete asserted that she relied on section 11 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities to do so.
After that very act, MPs have been severally thrown out of Parliament whenever they go heady or create ‘unparliamentary’ scenes.
The EFF has being the worst hit since the party elected 25 MPs in 2014. a handful of MPs from opposition parties have also tasted forceful ejection or at most been asked to take an ‘honourable walk away’.
On Thursday‚ Speaker Mbete ordered Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane to leave the house after he refused to sit down as commanded by Mbete.
Before his exit, Maimane tried to raise a point of order while Zuma was answering questions. As he left, the rest of the DA’s MPs followed him out.