The experience of opposition parties is that with each new parliament the Speaker of the National Assembly increasingly relinquishes his or her neutrality. That is why it is inevitable that the opposition would institute a motion of no confidence in the Speaker, Dr. Pieter Mulder says.
Dr. Mulder says Section 42(3) of the Constitution reads that the National Assembly is elected to represent the people of South Africa and to ensure government by the people under the Constitution. He said the Speaker is the head of the National Assembly and therefore represents all the people of the country and not only the ANC.
According to Dr. Mulder, the name and title of Speaker comes from the British system of government. When the British people elect a Speaker, a candidate has to be nominated by at least twelve members of parliament. At least three of the twelve must be from a party other than the one the nominated candidate belongs to. The impartiality of the person is affirmed from the beginning already. A closed election is then held until a candidate obtains an absolute majority.
“When a British Speaker is elected, he or she has to be absolutely neutral and renounce any party affiliations. The person has to break ties with his or her party and retains this neutrality even after retirement.
“In South Africa we had a measure of impartiality from 1994. The Deputy Speaker of the first parliament, Dr. Bhadra Ranchot was not a member of the ruling party.
“In the second and third parliament there were chairpersons from other political parties. Examples are Dr. Ben Skosana and Farouk Cassim of the IFP and Sandra Botha of the DA. In the fifth and current parliament, the Speaker and all the chairpersons are for the first time all from the ANC.
“The Speaker is also the chairperson of the ANC which means that she meets with the top executives of the ANC every Monday at Luthuli House to discuss strategies against the opposition. It therefore makes the situation untenable where she is in a position where decisions have to be made against the ANC.
“In the ANC’s motion last week in favour of the Speaker, all her achievements as ANC member were mentioned. It is impressive and explains why she was the deputy president and currently the ANC chairperson. But it is exactly for this reason why she cannot be viewed as an impartial objective Speaker.
The FF Plus believes that we can no longer wait for this parliament to take a stand on the neutrality and objective role that the Speaker has to play. That is why we support the motion of no-confidence,” Dr. Mulder said.
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