Mgidlana‚ Mbete allow Nehawu cripple Parliament: DA

This morning Parliament ground to a halt amidst an ongoing strike by support staff who are members of the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

Protestors wearing Nehawu and pro-African National Congress (ANC) and Jacob Zama t-shirts were seen obstructing Parliament’s entrances and even disrupting committee meetings‚ said Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen.

“Portfolio and select committee meetings on crucial matters such as the water crisis currently crippling our agricultural and sanitation sectors were suspended‚ indefinitely. Standing committee meetings meant to deliberate budgetary matters such as the Division of Revenue and Annual Appropriations were also suspended.

“Compounding this calamity is also the fact that a National Assembly sitting scheduled to consider outstanding defence‚ energy‚ health and home affairs budget review and recommendation reports this morning (Tuesday) was also postponed; procedurally jeopardising our national budgetary cycle and burdening Parliament’s budget with rescheduling costs‚” ‚” said Steenhuisen.

“And at the moment‚ it is unclear whether today’s second sitting scheduled to debate the water crisis will continue as planned.

“In the midst of all of this‚ the Secretary to Parliament‚ Gengezi Mgidlana‚ and even the speaker‚ Baleka Mbete‚ have failed to provide adequate leadership and implement measures to mitigate protest action and programme disruptions despite assurances in a press conference yesterday that the strike action would ‘not affect business of Parliament’.

 “While we respect the rights of these workers to strike‚ the actions of Nehawu could represent a breach of Chapter Seven of the Powers‚ Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.

“There therefore needs to be leadership shown by the presiding officers and the secretary to ensure that Parliament can continue its work urgently. To this end‚ the speaker should make a public announcement on what she is doing to make this happen‚” he said.

“As the country’s oversight body and the people’s elected representatives‚ Parliament is duty-bound to deliberate and debate the issues that matter the most to South Africans.

“Considering the numerous financial‚ education and even educational crises South Africa is currently facing‚ we simply cannot afford to lose a moment’s worth of work‚” said Steenhuisen.

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