Opinion: Motion was a clumsy ploy to unseat the Speaker


The recent motion of no confidence in National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete was a political ploy by opposition parties trying to unseat her from the position she was elected to by parliament.

This was never about fundamental issues of impartiality as there is no basis for making such claims.

Those of us who still remember when the Economic Freedom Fighters interrupted parliament when President Jacob Zuma was responding to questions from the members, will recall that Mbete kicked out Julius Malema for breaching the rules of parliament.

What the speaker did is permitted by the rules of parliament, which all members vowed to respect when they took their oath where they also committed to uphold our Constitution.

But when Malema and his crew lost their discipline compass, they breached the same rules and undermined the same Constitution they promised to uphold.

And yet Mbete is characterised as not being impartial by the opposition and the Daily Dispatch. That’s wrong because she did the right thing by kicking Malema out and suspending the National Assembly proceedings to ensure order.

In their desperate clumsy defence, they brought up this so-called motion of no confidence against Mbete, claiming an undefined conflict of interest.

Actions of these political parties are jaundiced by political jealousy and have nothing substantive.

The Dispatch and the five opposition parties claim Mbete has not been impartial but ignore the fact that Malema and his crew, together with some opposition party members breached the rules of the house and deserve to be disciplined.

These rules prohibit members from wandering around the house, interrupting another member when speaking unless raising a point of order, conversing aloud during debates; interrupting the presiding officer when speaking.

Furthermore, the rules say if the presiding officer is of the opinion that a member is deliberately contravening a provision of these rules, or that a member is in contempt of or is disregarding the authority of the chair, or that a member’s conduct is grossly disorderly, he or she may order the member to withdraw immediately from the chamber for the remainder of the day’s sitting.

With regards to naming or suspending a member, rules of parliament provide that if a presiding officer is of the opinion that a contravention committed by a member of the house is of so serious a nature that an order to withdraw from the chamber for the remainder of the day’s sitting is inadequate, the presiding officer may, suspend the member; or name the member, whereupon the speaker, after consultation with the presiding officer, may take such action as he or she deems necessary.

The rules also make provision for the speaker to adjourn or suspend house proceedings for a period to be stated by him or her in the event of grave disorder at a meeting.

While every member has the right to ask questions of other members, including the president, rules of parliament dictate that such must be done orderly with every member heeding the speaker’s guidance and instructions.

Malema did not and as a result the speaker exercised powers given to her by the rules of the house. And for this, they clubbed up with four other opposition parties to gang up against Mbete.

While we knew that their so-called motion would be dead on arrival, it is important that we rebuke their political opportunism.

Worrying is the Dispatch’s biased views on this matter. Without providing any facts, the Dispatch claims in its editorial (“Speaker must be impartial”, September 17) that we deployed Mbete to parliament to protect our interests.

The fact that the newspaper does not define these so called interests shows their bankruptcy and proves that the Dispatch consents to being used by opposition parties to spew its propaganda impetuously.

Together with the gang of five, the Dispatch tries to project the election of Mbete to the speaker’s position as wrong when in fact the Constitution allows for any member to be elected to this position.

The speaker is elected not by the ANC only but by all members of parliament from elected members as per election from political party lists.

The speaker’s priority is to lead parliament to ensure that it serves the people of this country fully.

The Dispatch’s publishing biased articles and narrow material throughout the election campaign leads us to the view that this is part of their anti-ANC propaganda.

Clearly, the Dispatch is not acting as a neutral newspaper but a mouthpiece of the opposition, with their opinion resembling text in the speeches and statements of the gang of five.

A case in point is when we sent the Dispatch the cartoon we drew showing this gang of five attacking Mbete. Instead of publishing the story from our angle about the cartoon, they rushed to the opposition parties and took their bemoaning it as the main angle for the story.

The Dispatch and the opposition seem to think it is wrong for the ANC to have been voted in by the majority of South Africans during the elections. And they don’t seem to accept that Mbete is our speaker.

It boggles the mind as to why the Dispatch and the gang of five think we should have entertained their narrow vote of no confidence against the speaker we nominated and elected by parliament.

The Dispatch can give the gang of five all its editorial support but in doing so they must not ignore facts and sacrifice the truth because they want to nurse their egos.

We elected our members to parliament for them to work, legislate and oversee the executive – and that is the work they are doing.

We will not allow EFF upstarts, apartheid-rooted political parties like the DA and Freedom Front, incompetent bantustan-minded rulers like that of the UDM and a newspaper embedded in opposition parties like the Dispatch to mislead South Africans and distort facts.

Led by comrade Mbete, parliament will continue discussing the proper business of developing this country, addressing oversight issues brought by committees and we will make sure that it does not degenerate into a puerile comedy of errors characterised the gang of five supported by their mouthpiece, the Dispatch.

Lubabalo Mabuyane is the ANC Eastern Cape’s secretary