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National Assembly approved new Rules Book

The National Assembly has approved the 15 chapter new Rules Book with more than 200 MPs who voted in favour and 61 voted against. There were no abstentions. The DA does not support the rules because it wanted some amendments to be made to the rules.

The long outstanding amended Rules Book that has been approved will include new rules on the procedure to be followed to submit a motion to remove a president from office. It will also include the rule on the removal of disorderly MPs from the Chamber.

The rule that gives MPs the power to table a bill in the National Assembly without prior notice, following a successful Constitutional Court challenge by the late former IFP MP Mario Ambrosini, will also be included in the new rules book.

All parties supported the new rules book except the Democratic Alliance. The DA which walked out of the Rules Committee on Tuesday re-iterated that it wants ministers to answer questions directly from the floor, instead of getting prior notice.

Sub-Rules Review Committee Chairperson Richard Mdakane explained why the rules had to be approved by the house. He also took a swipe at the DA but the party Chief Whip John Steenhuisen stuck to the DA’s decision.

“Our view Honourable speaker as the ANC is that the rules we are presenting today for the approval of the chamber are sufficient, are important and they would assist us to work in a manner that is appropriate. It can’t be right that we have agreed on all the rules and you are just running away for one rule, which is the proceedings one. And all rules you have been part and parcel of this discussion. Suddenly you become wiser, when you are supposed to adopt the rules of the nation Assembly,” Mdakane explained.

DA’s Steenhuisen says, “We want unscripted questions because its a way to hold the executive accountable and important way. We believe that the order of business is a sticky point because what it does it places the business of the executive ahead of the business of the people of South Africa. The constitution is clear. It says one of our responsibilities is providing a national forum for Public Consideration of issues.”

The IFP, UDM, ACDP, African People’s Convention and NFP and PAC all supported the new Rules book.

When he put his proposal to the House ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said the new and amended rules must be implemented from today.

“I move that the report be adopted and that the new rules take effect from tomorrow the 27th of May 2016, thank you very much.”

The DA subsequently proposed that the house consider its amendments, but it was defeated through voting. The party also called for a division for the voting on the Rules to be done from the allocated seats of MPs.

The majority of MPs were in favour of the new rule book. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete who is also the Rules Committee Chairperson read the results after voting was conducted.

“Honourable members the result of the division are as follows, -Yes 211, NO 61 and Abstentions= 0. And therefore the question has accordingly been agreed to. I wish to congratulate the House for the adoption of the rules book, because it is historic and may we be better as we implement the rules,” Mbete said.

Although the Economic Freedom Fighters were not in the House, they have consistently rejected the reviewed rules, saying they were reviewed to clamp down on EFF MPs. They also said the National Assembly rules are colonial era rules.

 

– By Mercedes Besent

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