Mapisa-Nqakula to invite Ramaphosa back to answer Phala Phala questions
National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request him to provide a date when he can appear to answer outstanding questions about the robbery at his Phala Phala farm.
Mapisa-Nqakula adjourned a rowdy session on Tuesday, after almost two hours of to-ing and fro-ing on whether Ramaphosa had answered an African Transformation Movement (ATM) question about his handling of the scandal.
She referred the matter to party chief whips to decide how it should be dealt with. But it emerged on Thursday the chief whips forum could not agree on the way forward.
The ANC wanted a motion to reschedule Ramaphosa’s appearance so he could answer Tuesday’s unanswered supplementary questions. They wanted it rescheduled based on Ramaphosa’s availability.
“A motion must be moved in the house to authorise the bringing back of those supplementary questions so that we deal with them in the next question session, which is September 29,” said ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude.
The opposition wanted the house to be reconvened “urgently” for Ramaphosa to answer the questions.
Dlakude told the National Assembly programming committee on Thursday they couldn’t reach an agreement because as the ANC, they believed “we shouldn’t step away from our rules”.
She cited the rule which prescribes that a question session should be three hours long. She also mentioned another rule which states that unanswered questions must be responded to in writing, saying this should be followed in relation to the questions Ramaphosa did not answer.
When the house adjourned, Ramaphosa had not taken any supplementary questions to follow up on the ATM question about Phala Phala.
There was also a question from ANC MP Mikateko Mahlaule about renewables and energy supply. That question was not addressed at all.
The house should authorise that the supplementary question be brought back to the agenda of the National Assembly and dealt with in the next question session on September 29Doris Dlakude, ANC deputy chief whip
“In the absence of any rule that deals with supplementary questions that were not dealt with in the house, our take is that, through a motion, the house should authorise that the supplementary question be brought back to the agenda of the National Assembly and dealt with in the next question session, which is on September 29,” said Dlakude.
“We are proposing this because as parliament we are guided by the presidency based on the availability [of the president] and their diary, so we don’t want to dictate when the president must come because that might create problems for us.”
Opposition MPs objected, saying when Mapisa-Nqakula adjourned the house, she never cited any rule for doing so and that no rule exists for the adjournment of the house during “a live question”.
“When you asked that we adjourn for two minutes so that you can get counsel, what we raised [as the DA] was that there is no provision in the rules for you to suspend the proceedings of the house without citing a particular rule that pertains to that. That ruling was outside what the rules provide for,” said DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube.
To rectify the situation, she suggested parliament go back to where the matter was before Mapisa-Nqakula made that ruling. “By that I mean it’s important to go back to when question 5 was posed to the president and then we finish that question and the four follow-up questions that were lined up to be answered by the president.
“If we now do something else, we are going to be setting a precedent that is outside the rules of parliament and all we have in this institution is the rules that guide us all,” she said.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh urged that the matter be dealt with in good faith and not disingenuously.
“When you [Mapisa-Nqakula] adjourned the session, there was no emphasis on the rule of time or anything else. The issue was the way the matter was unfolding. ‘I think it was the best thing to do, to adjourn’ and you were referring to us,” he said.
UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa agreed, saying throwing the book at the opposition by saying the question session is three hours long was not going to work, because the rules do not provide for what happened.
Secretary to the National Assembly Masibulele Xaso reminded the meeting that when a similar occurrence took place in August 2014 and a question session with then president Jacob Zuma was abruptly suspended, Zuma returned months later to answer the supplementary questions he had not answered. “That’s the precedent set,” he said.
Mapisa-Nqakula registered her disappointment about the events of Tuesday, including that the chief whips couldn’t find consensus.
To break the deadlock, she said she will consult with ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina and Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as leader of government business in parliament, to resolve the matter and “bring something tangible to you”.
LISTEN | When there is a point of order you keep quiet, Malema tells Ramaphosa
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