National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said yesterday no disruptions were expected ahead of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.
This follows an alleged punch-up on Wednesday between the ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs.
Now with 44 seats in parliament, EFF leader Julius Malema has repeatedly butted heads with Ramaphosa in the past year, particularly over the president’s son, Andile, doing business with Bosasa (now African Global Operations); the reappointment of Pravin Gordhan to Cabinet; and stymieing the motion for land expropriation without compensation.
“We have not been given any indication that there’s going to be a disruption,” Modise said yesterday, adding there were no extraordinary contingencies in place. “We will stick to what we usually do, our rules. We will ensure there is decorum.”
She said she had no idea how many “white shirts” (parliament’s security officers) would be on duty and hoped they would not be needed.
It is understood 66 “white shirt” positions were created but only 39 were filled, according to court papers filed in 2017.
Modise did not mention that she had slammed the conduct of “certain members” in parliament on Wednesday during an induction session.
In a widely shared video on social media, ANC and EFF members can be seen in face-to-face arguments, pushing each other, reportedly over the latter’s mocking of the former for allegedly appointing “criminals” to parliament.
“Order! Order!” shouted Modise in an audio clip released yesterday by parliament.
“Honourable members, you must be ashamed of yourselves … that you allow the first week of parliament, a very important session to reorientate you and bring you into a completely new atmosphere, to degenerate to this level,” Modise said.
“I am ashamed if you’re not and, I don’t think we should allow this to happen.
“Whatever it is, people will always have differences. But asseblief [please] man, you are all adults. Parliament is not for juveniles and children.”
Although not chairing, Modise was in attendance and waded in to split the arguments up, a far cry from her predecessor, Baleka Mbete, who would delicately adjust her glasses while squeaking “order” into the microphone.
The budget for next week’s Sona has been set at R2 million. – Amanda Watson/The Citizen