Raymond Suttner: The speaker and holding Zuma accountable in parliament

Personally I am not absolutely convinced that it is necessary to follow the British example in having the Speaker resign from office

and membership of the party to which s/he belongs. The previous speaker, Max Sisulu, who held high office in the ANC and the previous tenure of Baleka Mbete did not entail violations of the constitution, (as I recall, though there has been so much irregularity that I may not have recalled some of it occurring in parliament). The conditions under which anyone is made speaker now are that of crisis, where the president is reported by an authoritative institution the Public Protector to have been enriched through improper processes. Matters were not that stark in earlier parliaments and now it is clear that the speaker has a constitutional duty to ensure accountability and fails to do so. The ANC and the speaker have treated loyalty to the president as a higher duty than their oaths of office to carry out the constitution. (Why on earth is it so important to protect THIS president?) That is the main issue that could well be addressed by someone who remains an office bearer of an organisation. It happens that the current ANC and SACP are spitting on constitutionalism, so that there is little likelihood of their seeing that there are bigger things than the personal incumbency of Zuma. Also, many people who are benefitting from his presidency are not interested in the needs of the country as a whole. Frankly, I do not see the answer lying in whether or not a speaker holds office or whether or not we have PR vs constituency based systems. We need a broad citizen’s movement to rally behind constitutionalism in order to bring weight beyond what is happening in those chambers

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