National Assembly Speaker Ms Baleka Mbete says she is concerned about the spate of disruptions of the work of Committees of Parliament by unruly members of the public. On Wednesday, Members of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, dealing with the National Minimum Wage Bill, were left distraught as a group of members of the public, clad in South African Federation of Trade Unions regalia, disrupted the meeting, threatened Members of Parliament and caused damage to property.
In May 2017, a joint meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance and the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, which was hearing public submissions on transformation of the financial sector, was disrupted by Black First Land First. The joint committee meeting’s chairpersons were verbally abused, with one also threatened with physical assault.
On both occasions Parliament Protection Services had to be called to intervene at the sittings, including removing the recalcitrant groups.
It is an offence to interfere with the ability of Members of Parliament to conduct their work – in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.
In the wake of yesterday's disruption, the Speaker has instructed that a full report be submitted to her office to ensure that appropriate action is taken.
“It is unacceptable. We can't allow a situation where certain individuals come to a democratic Parliament just to trample on its constitutional rights and Members of Parliament’s rights to perform their work. We will consider what action is to be taken after studying the report. Also, importantly, the leaders of this trade union organisation should be contacted,” said the Speaker.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.