Speaker treated Waters unfairly

There has been a lot of talk since the recent incident in parliament involving the Speaker Baleka Mbete and Mike Waters of the DA. Some have sided with the DA and others with the Speaker.

Waters did declare his intention to ask his question well in advance, and not once was it raised that it would conflict with House rules.

The Health Minister also validated the question by stating that she would reply in parliament. Waters asked his question in good faith.

Unfortunately, the grounds upon which the Speaker based her ruling to disallow the question is where the problem started.

Firstly, she ruled the question out of order because "it transgresses the rules and practice of the National Assembly ... which forbids the use of offensive or unbecoming language".

Then she said the question reflected on the integrity of the minister.

This reasoning infers a procedural irregularity, and thus conflicts with her first reason.

The final and most fatal error was to dismiss Waters' request outright.

He was entitled to an answer. The Speaker had an obligation to ensure that her ruling was fair.

Bryan Arumugam

Johannesburg

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