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Fri Oct 31 20:37:28 SAST 2014

ANC heavies clash on DA motion

DENISE WILLIAMS | 08 February, 2013 00:06
Mathole Motshekga, the ANC's chief whip
Image by: VELI NHLAPO.

Sparks flew between Speaker Max Sisulu and ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga over a decision to put on ice a planned National Assembly debate on the opposition-backed motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

The DA announced at a meeting of parliament's programming committee yesterday morningthat it was no longer interested in debating the motion because it lapsed when parliament went into recess last year.

The DA, which tabled the motion, supported by seven other opposition parties, has asked the Constitutional Court to clarify the rights of MPs of minority parties with regard to the tabling of motions.

The meeting of the programming committee got heated when Motshekga said that the DA had lost confidence in its own motion.

"If the call for a confidence debate by the DA was genuine and made in good faith, the DA and its partners would reinstate it. Its failure and neglect to do so confirmed our view that its motion was frivolous," said Motshekga.

But Sisulu would not entertain any discussion.

"I really, really won't allow you to continue. You are really out of order; this is not about political statements here. The matter ... it has lapsed.

"Parliament is an institution governed by rules and the rules are that if a matter has lapsed then it can only be resuscitated by the people who put the motion there. I really rule you out of order, absolutely out of order," an angry Sisulu told Motshekga.

Acting ANC deputy chief whip Mmamoloko Kubayi and Motshekga said they saw no reason why the motion could not go ahead.

Kubayi said it should be heard as there were claims that the ANC had stonewalled the debate last year ahead of its elective conference.

The DA alleged that, under Zuma's leadership, the justice system had been politicised and weakened, corruption had spiralled out of control, unemployment continued to increase, the economy was weakening and the right of access to quality education had been violated.

The ANC used its majority to block the debate last year, arguing that there was no time for a debate before the recess .

The DA then approached the Cape Town High Court and Judge Dennis Davis found that parliamentary rules were not clear on whether parliament could be forced to schedule such a debate as urgent.

The case is now before the Constitutional Court.

At an impromptu press conference later yesterday, Motshekga said: "Today's sudden U-turn by the DA-led coalition of opposition parties lays bare the true motives behind this motion."

DA chief whip Watty Watson said the party had not backed down and would re-table a motion of no confidence after the Constitutional Court ruling.

"This is our prerogative as MPs and we will not be dictated to and bullied by President Zuma's henchman in parliament, Mathole Motshekga," said Watson.

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