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Determining and Controlling Internal Arrangements, Proceedings and Procedures with due Regard to Representative and Participatory Democracy by RM Mdakane

12 May 2016

Honourable Deputy Speaker
Honourable Deputy President
Honourable Ministers
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Comrades and friends

Thank you honourable Deputy Speaker for affording us this opportunity to participate in the debate on budget vote 2. I rise on behalf of the ANC to support this budget vote because it represents the policy position of the ANC; that of building a strong and independent judiciary, executive and legislature that is capable of representing the hopes and aspirations of all South Africans.

This budget will ensure that the capacity of Parliament to oversee the empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities is strengthened. The budget will assist in the capacitation of members of Parliament to better represent the aspirations of their constituencies. It will also build the capacity of Parliament to track policies and their intended results.

The ANC is more than prepared to engage with those who generate new ideas that will address the triple challenge facing our country - poverty, unemployment and inequality. We will engage with them with respect and diligence.

However the ANC will refuse to join those who engage in politics of lower order, politics of insults, vulgarity, disrespect, anger and hatred.

Honourable members, this Parliament deserves to be treated with respect, at all times we enter into its precincts we should do so with the dignity.

It therefore cannot be proper that at times debates from oppositions are not different from thundering from an empty cloud, some of these debates Shakespeare would justifiable categorise as full of sound and fury yet absolutely amounting to no significance when all is said and done.

We therefore have no right to turn this institution into an arena for personal attacks, fallacious arguments and full of spurious and unsubstantiated allegations which are purely aimed at making headlines. Surely the shield provided by the Constitution does not imply that freedom of speech in the Assembly should amount to freedom to abandon cogent arguments in favour of empty media sound bites.

Light is more critical than thunder and the only light accompanying thunder is lightning and I dare not remind you of how much of a destructive force of nature lightning often is. Constructive criticism is always more useful than condescending and populist grandstanding.

Whatever the circumstances may be, the ANC will continue working very hard in this National Assembly to generate solutions to many problems encountered by our people.

Honourable Deputy Speaker,
We must remind ourselves that we are members of this House not because of our own wisdom but because the people saw it appropriate that we should be here on their behalf. We are therefore here as custodians of the pride of our people indeed our People's Tribune.

Therefore we are not here to represent our personal views but those of our parties and constituencies, this National Assembly does not at all belong to us but it is a treasured possession of the people. What we say in our debates and how we say it must therefore at all times reflect the contending yet collective wishes and aspirations of our people united in their diversity.

Our National Assembly should therefore be an arena which Mao Zedong would define as the stage where a thousand flowers bloom and a thousand schools of thought contend.
Debates in this Assembly should always be supported by facts and ideologies which inform the choices and preferences of constituencies that are represented in this House.

We can only earn the respect of our people and our colleagues through valid statements and sound arguments. Through compelling articulation of our policies we will be able to persuade even those whose policy orientation differs with that of ours. Indeed we should disagree without being disagreeable and where necessary agree to disagree.

Honourable Deputy Speaker

The ANC did not only support but also persuaded CODESA to endorse the separation of powers principle and the proportional representation electoral system. It is because the ANC believes in a strong judiciary, a strong executive as well as a strong Legislature. It is in pursuit of the strong legislature that the ANC supported and continues to support an electoral system that does not ensure that the winner-takes-all but that all the views of our people are equally heard and considered.

The ANC, honourable members believes in the collective wisdom of all and hence the National Assembly currently comprises of 13 different political parties representing diverse constituencies of our people.

Our electoral system allows the people to directly elect their representatives because people vote for each political party with the full knowledge of the identity of the leaders of the political party. Parliament in general and the National Assembly in particular is the institution of directly elected representatives of the people.

The Rules and orders of the National Assembly should therefore ensure free dialogue in a respectful manner. The Review of Rules which the National Assembly has been busy with is also aimed at strengthening the rules of engagement to safeguard the decorum of the House and present a respectful public image of the National Assembly. Therefore contrary to popular opinion, the Rules are not reactive but are anticipative of possible situations in line with participatory as well as representative democracy.

Honourable Deputy Speaker

The ANC through its strategy and tactics is building the National Democratic Society in which there is equality on the basis of race, class and gender; and in which there is prosperity and a better life for all.

In this regard the Constitution clearly promotes substantive equality which requires not only equality of treatment but demands equality of outcomes and is prepared to tolerate disparity of treatment to achieve this goal. It requires an examination of the actual social and economic conditions of groups and individuals in the process towards the goal of an equal society. That equal society can never be equal only in opportunity it has to be equal also in treatment as well as outcomes. Therefore affirmative action and BBEEE are a necessary measure to restore equality and heal the divisions of the past.

The DA opposes affirmative action and other instruments of transformation because of its ideology of negative liberalism. The DA is anti-transformation that is why that party does not mention transformation in its policies, not even once. This is why those DA members who believe that society should be transformed through measures aimed at advancing people who were unfairly discriminated by apartheid are soon marginalized from the political centre.

Those positive liberals who supported a labour relations amendment that was aimed at advancing transformation in the workplace were immediately redeployed from the Labour Portfolio Committee and the then leader of the DA in Parliament, Ms Mazibuko was constructively dismissed from her position by then DA party leader, Ms Zille.

The equal opportunities society policy of the DA is covertly aimed at insidiously perpetuating the status quo in which society remains as it was designed by apartheid.

Opportunities extended equally to people who are unequally placed in society can only serve to preserve inequality. To treat those who are unequal, equally is to unfairly discriminate against the disadvantaged and it is therefore contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. The equal opportunities society policy is therefore a deliberate mechanism to protect white privilege and perpetuate poverty, unemployment and inequality in society.

In conclusion let me again remind us that we are here not of our own accord and wishes but because the people have entrusted us with their most treasured asset (the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa). Let us therefore refrain from politics of the lower order, let us improve the quality of our arguments not the sound of our voices.

Let the opposition stop thundering from empty clouds for lighting only brings destruction. Yes, let us differ but do so respectfully. Let us not relent from being robust, let our policies contest space. Yes let a thousand flowers bloom and a thousand schools of thought contend.

Honourable Deputy Speaker

Indeed there can be no democracy without the people and it is well to say that the views of the majority shall prevail. That honourable members, is the essence of democracy. There can be no veto to the will of the majority through any form and the will of the majority accords with the Constitution. Therefore even in this House of Assembly the will of the House, its Committees and that of its Presiding officers binds one and all.

I must hasten to say that it is against the tenets of participating according to democracy to march out of deliberations when your view is defeated. Even more it is undemocratic to distance yourself and your party from the decisions taken by the National Assembly simply because you disagreed with the decisions.

When the National is praised we all bask in the glory we should as well collectively accept criticism leveled against the National Assembly - that honourable members is democracy.

I thank you.

     
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