Parliament, Friday 10 June 2022 – Parliament would like to apologise to the people of South Africa for the distasteful scenes that have played out in the National Assembly over the past two days during Parliament's consideration of Budget Vote No.1 of the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.

South Africans and people worldwide have had to witness some Members of Parliament engaging in disorderly and disruptive conduct to frustrate the presentation of the Budget Vote speech by the President of the Republic.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, condemns in the strongest terms the conduct of Members of Parliament, particularly those of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), for their disregard of the rules, the decorum of the House and the authority of the Speaker as provided for in the Rules of the House.

Through their conduct, the EFF MPs also disrupted and interfered with the rights of the rest of the Members to participate and hold the President to account regarding how his department has spent the previous budget and will implement programmes that will improve the socio-economic situation in the country, including the fight against the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality which affect the lives of many South Africans.

Two parliamentary chamber protection services staff were assaulted in the process of the forceful removal of rowdy MPs from the Chamber, and are receiving medical attention. Criminal charges, which include assault and intimidation, are being opened by the staff members against the responsible EFF MPs. Parliament is providing the necessary support to these members of staff.

Parliament takes oversight over the Executive, including the President, very seriously and will always ensure the right of MPs to exercise their constitutional functions is protected. However, the kind of conduct displayed today is obstructive to the business of the House and impedes the ability of the institution to oversee the actions of the Executives and hold them to account. Parliamentary processes provide multiple channels and platforms for MPs to hold the President - including all members of the Cabinet - to account and amongst these processes are oral questions, written questions, as well as appearances before the House - such as debates on the Presidency Budget Votes.

Disorderliness notwithstanding, the Speaker diligently and thoroughly applied the rules of the House to ensure that the President presents his Budget Vote yesterday and replies to the debate by Members of Parliament. This included removing disruptive MPs from the Chamber and also muting the virtual platform due to the persistent disorderly conduct.

The Rules, specifically Rule 80, allow the Presiding Officer to disable or switch off microphones if they become aware that a Member or Members are not showing due respect to the authority of the presiding officer, are not obeying directions of the presiding officer, or are involved in disruptive and grossly disorderly conduct.

In terms of Rule 26(2) and (3) the Speaker must maintain and preserve the order and proper decorum in the House. The Speaker must act fairly and impartially and apply the Rules with due regard to the participation of Members of all parties in a manner consistent with democracy. In this regard, the Speaker had to balance the rights of individual Members against the collective right of the House to perform its constitutional mandate.

No one has the right, authority or powers to stop the work of Parliament, and this is a principle that will always be protected.

The Speaker also apologises to the President for this inordinate delay and for the unacceptable conduct displayed during his appearance in the House. We thank the President for his patience and for fulfilling his obligations to Parliament despite the unacceptable situation.

Parliament will look into the conduct of the Members involved with a view to determine any further actions that may be taken.

Parliament has also noted allegations of gender-based violence and alleged mishandling of Members by parliamentary protection services in the course of fulfilling their chamber duties, and these will also be looked into.

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo