NA: Unrevised hansard – 9 June 2022
NA: Unrevised hansard – 10 June 2022
NA: Unrevised hansard – 30 August 2022
The Powers and Privileges Committee met virtually to consider its draft minutes of 18 November 2022 as well as matters related to updates and legal advice on removing EFF Members from the Chamber on 9 and 10 June 2022 and 30 August 2022. After the incidents occurred, the Rules Committee recommended the conduct of Members of the EFF be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee to establish whether there was a breach of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act and the Rules of the National Assembly. The Powers Committee agreed it would investigate the incidents with the help of an external initiator to be appointed by Parliament.
The Committee must now determine whether the conduct of the Members constitutes contempt of Parliament. The Committee must consider jurisdiction and whether the matter was properly placed before it. The affected Members will also have a right to be heard. Only once the affected Members have been given an opportunity to be heard can a determination on their conduct be made.
The Committee also received an update on the matter of Mr N Paulsen (MP). An initiator had been appointed to interview the relevant persons on the matter. There have been consultations with Members involved and there are plans to consult more Members relevant to the matter. Once this has been done, the initiator will propose dates and times for the hearing, which the Committee must make a decision on.
In her closing remarks, the Chairperson emphasised that the matters before the Committee should be handled fairly and hoped that it would be swiftly concluded and not be handed over to the 7th Parliament.
The Chairperson welcomed all present at the meeting. Apologies were heard.
Consideration of draft minutes 18 November 2022
The Committee considered its Summary of Decisions draft minutes from 18 November 2022
The Committee went through the document to consider any corrections.
Mr N Xaba (ANC) said the Committee should be advised on whether it had a quorum before adopting the minutes.
The Chairperson said once this was established, she would request a mover for the minutes.
The Committee considered and adopted the minutes of 18 November 2022 without amendment.
The Committee adopted the agenda of the meeting.
Removal of Members from the Chamber on 9 and 10 June 2022
The Chairperson requested the National Assembly Procedural Officer, Adv Victor Ngaleka, take the Committee through the report.
Adv Ngaleka took the Committee through its report.
He said several Members were removed from the Chamber during the Presidency’s budget vote debates in June 2022. According to Rule 12, whenever a Member is physically removed from the Chamber, the circumstances of the removal must be referred by the Speaker, within 24 hours for consideration by the Sub-Committee of the Rules Committee, appointed for that purpose.
The Sub-Committee must then meet to consider the circumstances relating to the removal of Members taking into account the provisions of Rule 203.
The Sub-Committee recommended that the conduct of Members of the EFF be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee to establish whether there was a breach of the Act. The Committee’s next step is to deliberate on the evidence presented to it.
Video footage and documents were sent to Members on Monday of the previous week. After deliberations, the Committee must decide whether there is a case for these Members to answer to. If the answer is yes, the next step is to procure the services of an external initiator. If the Committee decides that there is no case to be answered, that will be the end of the matter and a report will have to be drafted and submitted to the National Assembly.
The Chairperson invited Members to express themselves on the recommendations made.
Mr Xaba said that after having read the Hansard, Parliament should be brought to order as it was the highest institution serving the interests of the country. It should also ensure that the aspirations and needs of citizens are met. There has to be a question and word of warning to such Members. The Speaker applied herself to be calm and read all the rules. He urged the Committee to agree to a process where Members are afforded an opportunity to present themselves and be called to order.
Mr Z Mlenzana (ANC) said he did not have a chance to go through the Hansard, but having listened to Mr Xaba, he agreed with the proposal made. The Committee must be responsible for the decorum of the House in instilling discipline.
The Chairperson agreed with the recommendation of Members. She said the administration should procure the services of an external person to assist the Committee.
Mr Andile Tetyana, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said the Committee must determine whether the conduct of the Members constitutes contempt of Parliament. The Committee must consider jurisdiction and whether the matter was properly placed before it. Jurisdiction must be read with rule 214 and the Speaker’s referral. He referred to the Schedule of rules, pages 215 to 217 of the National Assembly rules, which makes provision for the right to be heard. Only once the affected Members have been given an opportunity to be heard can a determination on their conduct be made.
Section 12 (3) (a) of the Act further provides that before the House may take any disciplinary action against a Member, in terms of Sub-section 1, the Standing Committee, which is the Powers and Privileges Committee, must make enquiries into the matter in a procedural and reasonably fair manner. It accordingly follows that although the question for consideration is to determine whether conduct amounts to contempt, no definitive answer can be given at this stage as the affected Members’ version of events has not been provided at this stage. The Committee simply cannot determine at this stage whether there has been a contravention of the Act.
Section 13 of the Act states that any conduct falling within Section a to d of the Act will constitute contempt and that it must be read disjunctively. Section 7(a), on Prohibited Acts for Members of Parliament, states that a person may not improperly interfere with or impede an exercise by the House or Committee of its authority or functions.
It would appear, thus far, that Section 7(a) or (e) of the Act may be of relevance. Rule 214 must be applied to determine whether the behaviour of the affected Members amounts to contempt of Section 13 of the Act.
The Committee should request the Constitutional and Legal Services Office to appoint an external initiator to enquire into the matter.
The Chairperson said the correct procedures should be followed as recommended.
Mr Mlenzana said he felt the Committee was on the right track.
Mr Xaba said the Committee did not function in a vacuum and accepted the recommendations made to maintain order and respect the decorum of the House.
Removal of Members from the Chamber on 30 August 2022
The Chairperson requested Adv Ngaleka to take the Committee through the matter.
During the sitting of the Assembly on 30 August 2022, during questions placed to the President, some Members of the Assembly were physically removed from the Chamber in terms of Rule 73 (12).
The Speaker referred this matter to the Sub-Committee of the Rules Committee for consideration.
The Sub-Committee convened and considered the circumstances of the removal. It found sufficient evidence that Members removed from the Chamber had violated rules of the Assembly. It further found that the violation affected not only the Speaker, but the South African public as they had to wait for a significant amount of time to listen to the President’s replies to Members’ questions. The Rules Committee, which met on 23 November 2022, agreed to formally refer the incident to the Powers and Privileges Committee for processing.
The Committee must consider Mr Tetyana’s recommendations to provide the affected Members with an opportunity to be heard on the matter and to instruct the administration to contract an external initiator to assist the Committee.
The Chairperson asked the Committee to share their views on the recommendations.
Mr Mlenzana said the Committee should accept the recommendations as is and adopt the same approach to the previous matter.
Mr Xaba said the Committee was in order and he supported the recommendations made.
The Chairperson recorded that the recommendations had been adopted as they were and that an external initiator would be appointed to deal with the matter.
Update on Mr Nazier Paulsen (EFF) MP matter
The Chairperson requested Adv Ngaleka to take the Committee through the matter.
Adv Ngaleka said at the Committee’s last meeting, it gave the support staff the mandate to proceed in finding an initiator to proceed with a process of a disciplinary hearing against the Member.
The initiator began the process and has consulted, since the previous week, with senior procedural staff, who were sitting at the table during the incident.
On 3 March 2021, there was an incident involving Mr Paulsen and former Member of Parliament, Ms Phumzile Van Damme, and Mr Kevin Mileham of the Democratic Alliance. Mr Paulsen was ordered to leave the Chamber. Subsequent to the meeting of 3 March, Ms Natasha Mazzonne wrote to the Speaker that Mr Paulsen had, amongst other things, threatened assault. The Speaker then referred the matter to this Committee. A legal opinion was sought and it was determined that Mr Paulsen has a case to answer to.
There have been consultations with Members involved and there are plans to consult more Members relevant to the matter. Once this has been done, the initiator will propose dates and times for the hearing, which the Committee must make a decision on.
The Chairperson said this was not a new matter but merely an update. She emphasised that the matters should be handled fairly, concluded swiftly, and not handed over to the 7th Parliament.
The Chairperson made brief closing remarks and thanked Members and support staff for their input.
No related documents
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.