Parliament and the Constitution
There was high drama in Parliament when the EFF disrupted the State of The Nation Address. The DA then walked out, objecting to the use of security officers, forcefully removing members of the EFF. The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) has responded saying that the Constitution was transgressed in many ways and by several of the role players on that day. Casac Executive Secretary, Lawson Naidoo:
There was a deliberate ploy on the part of the EFF to abuse the rules of Parliament in order to disrupt the President and infringing on the rights of other Parliamentarians. We saw before the EFF raised any questions, the DA objecting to the jamming of the signal and those questions were dealt with by the Speaker. It becomes indicative that we're becoming a closed society where access to information is being curtailed, within a democratic society - those are worrying concerns. Almost everyone has condemned that signal jamming and what's important is that there needs to be accountability for that.
The Opposition vs Mbete
Opposition parties have made it clear that they take exception to comments made by Parliamentary Speaker, Baleka Mbete over the weekend. They are planning a meeting to strategise the way forward ahead of tomorrow's debate on President Zuma's speech (the Sona) last week.DA Parliamentary Leader, Mmusi Maimane:
We haven't met yet, but what's later this afternoon, the Parliamentary Oversight Committee will meet to address over how we feel there's a lack of safety over tomorrow's session, due to how there was an admission of the use of a jamming device and police force, which is a great violation within Parliament. Yes, the EFF were wrong but Parliament has its own security protocols and cannot use the SAPS while there are security services in Parliament which are under the control of Parliament.
The EFF on 'cockroach' comment by Mbete
The Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete, in her capacity as the Chair of the ANC referred to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Leader Julius Malema as a 'cockroach'. EFF National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi:
We think that Parliament should be able to have the Speaker withdraw those comments, if she is going to be preciding over Parliament; she must withdraw those comments. There are other actions, should that fail - there's possible court action which could be taken to address this, but our view is that she is literally inciting violence. If you listen, she's asked ANC members 'to deal with us', not only in Parliament. When you animalise someone, it's precisely to mobilise violence against them. We refer to each other as 'Honourable Members' precisely because there is an obligation for us to speak to the Oath of Office.
Mother still searching for answers to son's murder
A big story in EWN this afternoon relates to a mother's heartache as she tries to discover details on her son's death. William Sithole was shot five times and killed by police whilst in custody at the Dube Police Station. EWN's Barry Bateman:
This goes back to the 17th of December when police officers arrested William Sithole on suspicion of being involved in an armed robbery. He was later shot at the Dube Police Station, while the initial version given of his death was that he committed suicide. What was revealed later by an officer is that he was shot while attempting to escape. Sithole's clothes show there are five bullet holes in his t-shirt.
The Rea Vaya situation
The Rea Vaya service has been suspended due to a strike. Head of Strategy and Transformation at Piotrans, Dumisani Mntambo:
As of last Thursday, the company has released about 158 drivers (fired them), due to serious misconduct that they were found guilty of, including failing to drive the route that was issued to them and failing to respond to the call to return to work. It was a serious breach of their contract conditions.
Concerns over Smart ID-bank collabo
Also announced in President Zuma's Sona is the intention of the Department of Home Affairs to partner with some of the countries' banks to roll out the new Smart ID cards. There have been concerns raised on individual securities. MD of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck:
One could argue that a Smart ID card that includes a bank service far outweigh some of these concerns raised. The objections raised are more of a political nature, rather than of security.
Sona Focus: land ownership
Aside from the pandemonium seen in Parliament last week, the President did manage to make some major policy announcements. One of them pertains to land and ownership of land by foreigners will now be limited. The proposed new law is the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill which the President announced. Research Chair for the Program for Land and Agrarian Studies at University of the Western Cape, Professor Ben Cousins:
I don't think it has much substance and I don't think it's going to go anywhere because foreign-owned land is about 3% of the total, a lot of which is high-end property. Really, foreign ownership isn't impacting badly to the poor. I think what the ANC is trying to do is play to the gallery and show they can be more radical than the EFF.
ISIS operation expands
Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi says that Cairo reserves the right to respond in any way to the killing of 21 Christians by Islamic state militants, that took place over the weekend. EWN Middle East's Paula Slier:
A 5 minute video was released this afternoon showing 21 Christians kneeling at the beach while being beheaded. This also shows that ISIS is operating in Libya, which is new because they've always been seen to operate in Iraq and Syria, so this is a worrying development. Shortly after the Egyptian President's announcement, they did launch an attack on ISIS in areas where they've been located and at their weapon depots.
Fifty Shades of box office bursts
The opening weekend of the highly-anticipated into-film translation of cult novel 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Managing Editor of the Sunday Times Lifestyle Magazine, Sue De Groot:
There's always been a whole of protest over it, such as it encourages men to beat women, but I don't think so. I think it's a silly story - it's a whole 'frog turns into a prince thing'; it's the oldest thing in the book, except it's got a bit of pain with chains. There's several theories about the popularity, with some saying it's sanctified porn - the book is the most appallingly written book; it's got incredibly explicit sex scenes. (In the movie) it's all very tastefully done, it's not even as explicit as some of the porn shown say on eTV.
This article first appeared on 702 : The Constitution under fire in Parliament