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DA to challenge use of police in parliament

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The DA will bring a court challenge against legislation allowing for the arrest or removal of people who create a disturbance in the National Assembly, it said on Wednesday.

The DA filed papers in the Western Cape High Court following last week’s removal of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs from the National Assembly during the state-of-the-nation address, Democratic Alliance federal executive chairman James Selfe said.

The matter would be heard on March 5.

The DA also wanted an order preventing the Speaker from calling in police pending the outcome of its challenge to the constitutionality of section 11 of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.

EFF MPs were removed by police and parliamentary protection officers after Speaker Baleka Mbete invoked section 11 of the act.

The section allows the Speaker to order the arrest or removal of any person who creates a disturbance during a sitting.

The DA wants the section removed from the act, saying it clashes with section 58 of the Constitution.

“That section of the Constitution guarantees Cabinet members, deputy ministers, and members of the National Assembly the immunity from civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment, or damages for ‘anything they have said in, produced before, or submitted to the Assembly or any one of its committees’,” Selfe said.

He said that according to the Constitution no member of any security service may obey a manifestly illegal order.

Security services may also not prejudice a political party interest that was legitimate in terms of the Constitution.

The DA believed there was nothing wrong with raising points of order during President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address, and that Mbete acted unlawfully.

“They [EFF MPs] had not committed any crimes and therefore we contend that the police acted illegally and unconstitutionally. In doing that, the Speaker and the chairperson of the NCOP acted illegally in invoking section 11,” James said. SAPA

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