Just when South Africans were about to celebrate the new dawn bringing with it hope, peace and stability at the National Assembly, unruly members took over the proceedings bringing back their previous disappointing actions and allowing unbecoming behaviour to show its ugly face in the National Assembly last week
MPs recently displayed a lot of maturity when Parliament reassembled for the new season and unlike during the leadership of former president Jacob Zuma, MPs especially from opposition benches led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) applauded the speeches of President Cyril Ramaphosa whom they also honoured with a standing ovation.
When president Zuma headed the country, it had become normal for opposition parties to stage walkouts during parliamentary sittings. Many of them displayed total lack of discipline and became rowdy objecting to every point other members raised and forcing the Speaker, Baleka Mbete and her assistants to eject them from of the House.
South Africans had become worried that the National Assembly and the nation had become a laughing stock in the eyes of the international world
From the recent good behaviour displayed by MPs, South Africans were happy that our National Assembly would reclaim its position as a place of dignity and respect.
However, their celebrations were short lived when the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, had to personally get involved and went down to the benches where certain Members of Parliament got involved in a clash during the induction programme.
Modise strongly denounced the conduct of the handful of MPs involved in the incident as unbecoming and uncharacteristic of “honourable” Members of Parliament.
The Speaker, who was in attendance but not chairing the session, took to the podium and appealed to Members to adhere to the decorum and respect the authority of the Chairperson of the Session. She stressed that while it was normal and acceptable for difference of views to arise from time to
time, it was inappropriate to allow emotions to get the better of public representatives in such fashion.
The Speaker described the unfortunate brief incident as a “blot” on the National Assembly” and urged MPs to desist from such behaviour which she argued painted a negative picture about both Parliament and the country.
She warned members not to take their emotions into both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces adding that the incident would be investigated to avert any recurrence in future.
“The programme is intended to ensure capacity for MPs to discharge their Constitutional roles and responsibilities as elected representatives. These programmes cover their constitutional functions, legislative processes, House rules and policies, amongst others”, she said.
We remain hopeful that last week’s fracas was just a small “misunderstanding” led by a few individuals and will certainly not happen again.
When President Ramaphosa presents his state of the nation address (SONA) this evening at Parliament, we believe all MPs will afford the ANC leader the opportunity to address the nation peacefully with dignity and give him the chance to outline his plans to rid the country of most of challenges which are threatening our continued existence. Give him the respect he deserves as our chosen leader.