Covid-19 pandemic mutes usual parly pandemonium

27 December 2020 - 00:00 By andisiwe makinana

“Can you hear me chair,” an MP would shout before another chipped in. “Honourable member, mute yourself”, “My gadget is not working”, “Am I audible?” These were common phrases used by MPs this year as parliament adapted to “the new normal” — another phrase they overused as Covid-19 forced them to operate digitally.

The lockdown’s restrictions on travel and gatherings forced MPs to work largely from home and adapt to new ways of conducting parliamentary oversight. The imposition of the national lockdown coincided with parliament’s Easter recess, which saw a prolonged closure of the legislature in April beyond the initial schedule. Parliament suspended its business on March 18, three days after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and days before the start of its constituency programme...

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