Phala Phala debate postponed to December 13 for a physical sitting

06 December 2022 - 09:52
By Andisiwe Makinana
The National Assembly before the fire in parliament destroyed it. File image
Image: Anton Scholtz The National Assembly before the fire in parliament destroyed it. File image

Parliament’s debate on the section 89 Phala Phala panel's report has been postponed to December 13 to prepare for a proper, physical sitting of the house.

This was announced by ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude during a meeting of the National Assembly programming committee on Monday night.

“I propose we have our sitting to deal with this report using manual voting for December 13 which is next Tuesday. This will allow MPs to make travelling arrangements on time."

Dlakude said she made the proposal given inputs by opposition MPs who demanded an in-person gathering and having considered logistical arrangements including scarce flights.

Her proposal was supported by all MPs present.

Some were concerned, however, whether the institution will be able to secure a venue for 400 MPs within a week.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu earlier expressed “serious dissatisfaction” with speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula's rejection of the EFF’s request to convene a physical sitting for the debate.

He said parliament had known for a long time, before the independent panel concluded its report, that a sitting of the Assembly would have to be scheduled to consider the report on December 6.

They wanted a physical meeting so that MPs are “under the protection of parliament”, unlike during the motion of no coincidence in the executive when ANC MPs were “frogmarched” into voting in a certain direction.

He said this denied the MPs their constitutional right and permission to exercise their own conscience.

The DA’s Siviwe Gwarube repeated her request for the so-called “roll call” voting procedure which Mapisa-Nqakula rejected on Sunday.

Gwarube argued that a precedent had been set on manual voting and the argument that it takes long “is neither here nor there”.

Considering the gravity of the question MPs are going to be considering on Tuesday, the length of the voting time should not deter parliament from doing “what is right”.

Not allowing a manual vote and treating the vote on Phala Phala as any another other report MPs vote on was improper, she said.

“We cannot treat this the same way. We ought to treat it differently. By treating it differently, we rely on the precedent you have set that we can have MPs voting individually because it is important for record purposes how people have voted.”

ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile announced on Monday that the party’s national executive committee had resolved that its MPs vote against the adoption of the report given that President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken it on review.

“Should parliament proceed, the ANC will not support that report,” he said.