Yesterday (6 September 2017), a Question & Answer Session was held with the Deputy President in the National Assembly. Below is a brief interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with Member of Parliament, Deidre Carter (COPE) on the proceedings, shortly after the session.
Hon. Carter, you were just in the Question & Answer Session with the Deputy President (6 September 2017), would you like to provide comment on the Session?
Please call me Diedre. I am a servant of the people; there is nothing honourable about me – the only honourable people are the South Africans that put their trust in us.
I must say to you that I am very disturbed with what happened today, again. We see a manipulation of the system and rules in Parliament. If you have been watching the actual process, you would notice that we stood up a couple of times,on points of order, today. Over the last couple of weeks we had noticed that we would push our button to speak, but we would not be recognised, and we would still not be recognised. So, I have actually gone to the table to check where we are on the speaker list, and you will see that, last week, every time we pushed our buttons – our names were cleared; which was a problem. Today, I made a point of it – every time we pushed our buttons, I would go to the table, I would go and see where we are on the list; for question number two, Mr Madisha was first, question number three, I was first on the list. So, it means that after the Deputy President would answer a question, there would be a follow-up by the person who has asked it, and thereafter, they would follow the list – but we were not called. I went back to the table, and they then said that it is the prerogative of the Deputy Speaker or the Presiding Officer, to decide who is going to ask the question; so he does not have to take the questions in order of who pushed their button first – he can just decide.
So, we have been excluded out of follow-up questions the entire day. The actual rule book does not say it; but there is a 2004 handbook that does talk about the prerogative. But, later in the afternoon when we asked Hon. Tsenoli about it – I said “just as a point of clarity, tell me know do you select you speakers; do you have a prerogative to decide?” then he said “no, we go according to the list”. So, it just shows you that the Deputy Speaker, who we have laid an official complaint against two weeks ago, and they totally ignored to correspond to that; even acknowledging receipt, has not definitely got his sights out for us that he does not even recognise us in the Question Session even if our names are at the top of the list.
What do you think might be the agenda for not recognising COPE Members as speakers?
What he is doing, is he is selecting who he wants to speak. If we look at, for example; there are certain people, even in the opposition benches and the NFP, that with every Question Session, would be the ones standing up, protecting the ruling party – but they always get turns. And you start asking, and when you start checking, you say, it is not who pushed the button first – actually, it just the Deputy Speaker deciding that – I am not going to let Madisha speak, I am not going to let Lekota speak, and I am not going to let Carter speak; which is not a fair process.