Pemmy Majodina wants fewer visitors as parliament tightens anti-virus measures

12 March 2020 - 17:09 By Andisiwe Makinana
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina has called for a limit on the number of people allowed to enter the parliamentary precinct to try to limit potential exposure to coronavirus.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina has called for a limit on the number of people allowed to enter the parliamentary precinct to try to limit potential exposure to coronavirus.
Image: Esa Alexander

MPs have called for a limit on the number of visitors to parliament's precinct as one of the measures to fight the spread of coronavirus.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said while they were always concerned about cleanliness around the parliamentary precinct, there was a greater focus now with coronavirus having arrived in SA.

“With the spread of coronavirus we are more worried that there is no lock down in terms of restrictions of people coming to parliament. We are firmly proposing that let's lower visitors to parliament.

“This is a big community. Members alone are 400-plus and we have our own staff. The place is so congested,” said Majodina, placing on the record the request to limit the numbers.

She said the matter – and the impact of load-shedding on parliament – were discussed at the chief whips' forum on Wednesday, and were viewed as critical.

Majodina said it was important for parliament to take precautionary measures.

“I want to appeal that we take this matter seriously ... tomorrow, there's a joint sitting of 400-plus MPs in one room and once you are in that room, there is load-shedding like yesterday.”

She said while lights remained on in the chamber, there were concerns about the lack of ventilation.

Majodina said it would be important for parliament to plan its meetings around the load-shedding schedule.

Cedric Frolick, the National Assembly chairperson responsible for committees, added that as far as the coronavirus was concerned, there were protocols that needed to be put in place and those had been articulated  by health minister Zweli Mkhize.

“Of course we need to look at the volumes of people coming to parliament. Not everyone who comes to parliament is coming to visit committees or to participate, there are also parliamentary tours that are taking place.

“So we need to manage those numbers” he said.

Frolick indicated that some committee meetings may have to be postponed. Parliament has also put on hold all international trips. An assessment on international travelling will be done again next month.

The new measures will be concluded and presented to the chief whips' forum next week.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone suggested that parliament be sanitised, saying a number of international parliaments had groups that go around the parliamentary buildings, sanitising surfaces.

She also proposed hand sanitisers be placed around the parliamentary precinct.

The EFF and UDM did not support the call to limit visitors, arguing that it would be undemocratic to do so.

“We must take all the precautionary measures to make sure that lives aren't put at risk. We can't turn people away from the same parliament when last week we said the coronavirus is under control,” said UDM chief whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.


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