ANC whip supports call on rules
The office of the ANC chief whip voiced support for a call by Speaker Max Sisulu for political parties to exhaust Parliament’s internal dispute-resolution processes before going to court.
“It is our observation that this increasing new tendency to run to courts is symptomatic of a general lack of knowledge, or misinterpretation of the rules of Parliament,” Mathole Motshekga’s office said today.
Sisulu last week urged parties to use the current review of the parliamentary rules to voice their grievances, rather than go to court.
The speaker recalled he had instituted a comprehensive review of the rules to align them with the Constitution, and said the process had “begun in earnest”.
Opposition parties in November sought a court order forcing Parliament to debate a no-confidence motion in President Jacob Zuma before the end of that month. It was rejected by both the Western Cape High Court and the Constitutional Court.
However, Judge Dennis Davis, in his ruling in the Western Cape High Court, found the parliamentary rules lacked the necessary mechanism to resolve a deadlock as such that occurred over the scheduling of the debate.
But he held it was not for the court to dictate to Parliament how to conduct its business, and also warned there was a danger of drawing “the judiciary into every and all political disputes”.
Motshekga’s office said it agreed with Sisulu that parties must use the rules review to air their grievances, and contribute to fixing any gap that might exist in that framework.
It added that once the process was complete, Parliament should consider running a compulsory workshop for MPs on its revised rules.
“We are hopeful that this will go a long way in cushioning Parliament against unnecessary, hostile political battles, which result in abuse of the courts.”