The opposition parties have indicated that they intend to increase the pressure on Baleka Mbete to step down as speaker of parliament. This was announced by various members of parliament from the opposition parties on Monday.
These statements were made in the wake of massive disturbances that occurred in the Chamber last week that resulted in the riot police being called into the House. The whole fracas started when EFF MP Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela refused to retract a statement she had made that President Jacob Zuma was a thief. When she refused to retract her statement at the insistence of the speaker, riot police were called in but their path was blocked by Democratic Alliance Members of parliament and chaos broke out, resulting in the business of the House being adjourned. This was, however, not before members of the opposition clearly stated their displeasure at the way the Speaker was handling the matter.
On Monday, the Democratic Alliance Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said that even though his party could not in itself initiate a vote of no confidence in the speaker, they would ensure when parliament resumes on Tuesday, it would not be business as usual. He said his party would, however not recognize her authority. Adding to these sentiments, the parliamentary leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane said that he would be confronting Deputy President, Cyril Ramaposa so that he would rethink his party’s stance on opposition complaints. He said he would highlight that the presence of the police in parliament was a violation of the constitutional separation of powers. This, he said, was because the police reported to the Police Minister who is part of the executive. He argued that if this was allowed to go on, the ANC would end up bringing the defence forces into parliament.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, on the other hand, are arguing that the police violated section 58 (1) of the Constitution which guarantees parliamentary privileges and protects members of parliament from prosecution for statements made in parliament. It will be interesting to see how parliament goes since one of the issues that the house will discuss and seek to vote on is the adoption of the Powers and Privileges Committee’s report finding 20 EFF MPs guilty on corruption charges.