The Subcommittee on Review of the Assembly Rules were introduced to the draft guidelines required by the National Assembly Rules in preparation for finalisation in the next meeting.
The Chairperson asked Members to finalise their contributions on the guidelines on the dress code. The Committee must finalise the general guidelines, including the dress code and the impeachment of the President, in the next meeting.
The draft guidelines that are required by the National Assembly Rules were introduced to the Members of the Subcommittee on Review of the Assembly Rules for perusal in preparation for their next meeting. No decisions were taken, but they would be taken in the next meeting.
The Parliamentary Researcher took the Members through the guidelines page by page. On the Guidelines for Removal of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, an optional addition is made. It states: “If notice is given in the House, it must take no longer than 90 seconds to read it out”.
The Parliamentary Consultant, referred to Motions of No Confidence in the Guidelines for Notices of Motion, saying that the Whip or Speaker should use discretion on who qualifies to be a prominent person.
Concerning adjustments to Draft 9 of the National Assembly Revised Rules, Subrule 53A(11) has been amended to bring the provision in line with the Powers and Privileges Act. “Speaker” has been deleted and replaced with “presiding officer”.
The Chairperson asked Members to finalise their contributions on the guidelines on the dress code. The Committee must finalise the general guidelines, including the dress code and the impeachment of the President, in the next meeting
Ms N Mazzone (DA) proposed that 3(b), on Guidelines for Removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker, be fleshed out and to explain in detail the time frames and the name of the committee that would investigate the charges.
Mr B Mashile (ANC) suggested that the additional option of 90 seconds to read out a notice should be revised Members need to be given adequate time to make a mature decision.
Mr Kasper Hahndiek, Parliamentary Consultant, replied that the motion should be short and succinct. That is the criterion that is going to apply to the 90 seconds optional addition.
Mr Victor Ngaleka, Parliamentary Researcher, pointed out that the 90 seconds guideline does not apply to all motions, but only to motions with no notice.
Mr N Singh (IFP) said it is important to summarise the rules and be given to members to apply their mind. Once the work is finalised, the Parliament should publish the 2016 Rules. There is also a need to re-look at the guidelines because there have been many changes since 1994. He said the rules should supersede the guidelines, and the guidelines should contain technical details. There must be a clear distinction between the rules and the guidelines.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Singh saying Members should decide on rules and guidelines. The guidelines should be made out of rules, not the rules out of guidelines.
Mr Mashile stated that guidelines should have some kind of authority to a certain extent, but not more than the rules.
Ms J Kilian (ANC) wanted to know if it is necessary to have 2(a) in Guidelines for Removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker.
Mr Hahndiek stated that the Committee could dispense with that. If it is in the rules, it means it has been removed from the guidelines.
Mr J Steenhuisen (DA) said Members should not confuse freedom of speech with unparliamentary language. There is a difference between the two.
Mr Perran Hahndiek, Committee Secretary, on Guidelines for Removal of Speaker or Deputy Speaker, stated that points (2) and (3) are usually motivated by political motives. If point (3) is to be pursued, especially on the grounds of “unethical conduct”, an investigation should be carried out.
Mr Singh, regarding Guidelines for Appointment of Whips to Smaller Parties, suggested that smaller parties should have their own Whips because it becomes difficult to coordinate meetings. On the Guidelines for Notices of Motion, he said there is a difference between circulation and delivery in the House. A motion could be circulated but could not be delivered.
Mr Hahndiek, on motions without notice, wanted to know from Members that if a motion is circulated, can the opposition amend the motion at a later stage or should it be done at the time it is put on the House.
Mr Singh stated that motions should not suppress the concerns of smaller parties because some would have challenges of voicing concerns about the constituencies, and a small party could raise many motions.
Mr Steenhuisen said an amendment to a motion is a form of opposition to it.
The Chairperson, on to the Motion of No Confidence in the President, asked Members to consider Section 89 of the Constitution, and already there are two options that have been drafted. There is an existing one, and then there is another one that has to do with the Committee of Members of Parliament and external sources like retired judges.
Mr Hahndiek asked Members if this decision could not be taken by the Committee of Members of Parliament comprising external sources and then be presented to the Constitutional Court for validation or invalidation.
The Chairperson suggested state law advisors should advise the Committee on the matter, and Members should also forward proposals.
Mr Hahndiek said the use of external sources or inclusion of them in the Committee of MPs would be a viable option when dealing with Section 89.
The Chairperson asked members to finalise their contributions on the guidelines on the dress code.
Mr F Shivambu (EFF) stated the issue was discussed before. There is no reason to repeat the exercise.
The Chairperson stated that the matter of dress code has been put under the guidelines, but now it must be under rules. The Chairperson, in closing, said members must finalise the general draft guidelines, including the dress code and the impeachment of the President, in the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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