NEWS & ANALYSIS

Why the DA walked out of parliament - Mmusi Maimane

PL says calling in of armed police officers to remove EFF MPs a violation of the separation of powers

DA walks out of Parliament as police enter chambers

12 February 2015

Tonight the ANC and the EFF have turned Parliament into a national embarrassment. 

By calling armed South African Police Service officers into the chamber to remove MP's, the Speaker has violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers (see below).

There is an important difference between the police and parliamentary security - one reports to the executive and the other to parliament.

To allow one arm of government to suppress the work of another is a very dangerous precedent for our constitutional democracy. 

This is not an academic issue.  It is essential for the oversight role Parliament must play that its work cannot be suppressed by the security forces, and that the police may not interfere with the function and work of political parties.  The EFF was wrong not to abide by the Speaker's ruling.  The Parliamentary security should have removed them.  But calling in armed police was a violation of the constitution that the DA cannot tolerate.

The presiding officers acknowledged that the South African Police Service (SAPS) were working directly with the security services on the precinct of Parliament. Therefore the state-controlled SAPS had again infringed on the independence of Parliament, as it had done at the end of 2014 when the riot police stormed the Chamber.

For that reason, the Democratic Alliance had no choice but to walk out of Parliament and take no further part in proceedings.

This does not mean that we condone the EFF's disruption of the State of the Nation sitting.

At a time when South Africa is in crisis, the constitutional role of Parliament has been severely undermined today, and the real issues that matter to South Africans have been forgotten.

While Parliament has been turned into a circus this evening, tomorrow the nation's electricity crisis remains, unemployment remains, and crime continues to plague our communities.

The ANC's heavy-handed use of the police, and the EFF's theatrics, does not advance the interests of South Africans, or accountability of those in power.

Tonight's sitting was nothing short of a disaster, and an insult to South Africans.

The DA will demand full accountability for police entering the chambers. It is clear the ANC's use of heavy-handed security was planned well in advance given the scrambling of signal in the house, as well as the man-handling and arrest of our supporters prior to the sitting.

It is important that Parliament's business is urgently turned to the issues that matter to South Africans, and that immediate action is taken to return integrity to this important institution.

Statement issued by Mmusi Maimane MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, February 12 2015

Removal of EFF MPs:

Walk-out of DA MPs:

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