The ANC wanting Parliament to protect President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa undermines the chamber and the Constitution, the DA said on Sunday.
“This confirms the DA’s position that the ANC deployed its chairperson Baleka Mbete as Speaker to undermine the role of Parliament in holding the Executive to account,” Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
The Sunday Times reported that the ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) wanted Parliament to protect Zuma and Ramaphosa from “humiliation and embarrassment” from opposition parties.
This was according to a statement released at the end of an NEC meeting on Saturday.
“The NEC cautions against continuing this trend of negatively exposing the head of state to disrespect and intended humiliation by a fringe group committed to undermining democracy,” secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.
The newspaper said the African National Congress would not explain how the protection would be provided, but said it did not mean Zuma and Ramaphosa would be above accountability.
Maimane said Zuma was elected by Parliament, and thus was accountable to it in terms of Section 92 (1) of the Constitution, which stated Cabinet members were accountable to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and their performance.
“The ANC is not only undermining the sovereignty of Parliament but also the Constitution, which is a worrying trend and a threat to South Africa’s constitutional democracy,” Maimane said.
“The DA requested that President Zuma return to Parliament to answer questions from [MPs], given that he did adequately answer questions in the House on August 21.”
Zuma did not complete answering the remaining questions because of undue protection from Mbete, he said.
“The ANC has long departed from the values of the Constitution, resulting in institutions like Parliament becoming unmanageable and it being usurped to protect those who no longer respect the Constitution.
“The DA will continue to call for speaker Mbete to step down, and for a Speaker who will act impartially and for an accountable executive,” Maimane said. SAPA