It is evident that South Africa’s parliament may have lost its sanity in recent times. However, the Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem said that peace and decorum can only be restored in South Africa’s National Assembly if presiding officers are fired.
“Cope believes that for Parliament to regain its decorum and former glory‚ all of the presiding officers must be fired‚” said Bloem.
He opined that under the late President Nelson Mandela‚ National Party member of parliament (MP) Dr Bhadra Ranchod held the position of the deputy speaker. And “by invitation of the ANC‚ under President Thabo Mbeki‚ a number of Inkatha Freedom Party MPs were allowed to preside over proceedings in the house…among them…Lionel Mtshali‚ Kisten Rajoo‚ Farouk Cassim and Ben Skosana‚” Bloem said.
Throwing more light on why parliament was formerly honored, Bloem posited that there was political harmony irrespective among the ruling party and opposition parties.
“In all this period‚ there was order‚ respect and co-operation in the house. Frene Ginwala and Max Sisulu lent great dignity and stature to the office of speaker.
“They were highly respected and admired for their impartiality even though they were senior members of the ANC. Politics did not intrude into the conduct of parliamentary matters,” he maintained.
Bloem, expressed sadness that the African National Congress’ chief whip in the National Assembly‚ Stone Sizane‚ was “unable to give answer why Parliament had descended into such a state of chaos” during a “radio station debate” on Thursday night.
He further alleged that President Zuma has turned what the parliament used to be before to something else. And has surrounded himself with “presiding officers who could protect him at all costs”.
Making contribution on why parliament has lost its former glory, Bloem postulated “What is now happening in the house is an off-shoot of the Nkandla saga and other difficulties (President Jacob) Zuma has with the law.”
“When Zuma became president‚ he and the ANC terminated” an arrangement in which members of the opposition served as “presiding officers at different times”.
Hence, the reasons for rancorous and hostile parliamentary sessions. He further suggested that relieving presiding officers of their duty would be “a small price to pay for the good of Parliament and of the nation.”
Last week, Bloem had called on president zuma to slash his ministers to save money. He was responding to president Jacob Zuma’s call for the relocation of parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria. He said,
“Instead of contemplating having one capital‚ Zuma could rather have announced that the cabinet would immediately be slashed to 20 ministers and 10 deputy ministers‚ Bloem said.
“Such a move would remove the need for houses‚ cars‚ offices‚ staff‚ and so on for 15 ministers and 28 deputy ministers who will no longer be needed.
“In effect the savings would be greater than consolidating the two capitals. The beauty is that this could be done at once‚” Bloem added.
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