The Speaker of the National Assembly, the lower house of the South African Parloament, Baleka Mbete, has called on Members of Parliament to conduct themselves in an orderly manner and set an example to the millions of South Africans who follow Parliamentary proceedings on television and on social media platforms.

Delivering Parliament's Budget vote at the National Assembly, on Thursday, she said this was in reference to a trend of refusal by some MPs to obey the rules, the instructions and the rulings of presiding officers as well as maintaining the decorum of the House.

"Our people expect all of us, as members, to make greater efforts to curb disorder and unruly behaviour. So I urge all members to reflect on how best to return the House to the convivial, co-operative atmosphere I know all of us would prefer," she said.

Mbete said ever since the commencement of the fifth session of Parliament, the atmosphere in the National Assembly chamber had been very challenging.

She said debates tended to become argumentative and often robust, and that her task in this atmosphere was to ensure that the intensity of feeling expressed around some issues was contained within the bounds of the rules and orders without infringing on the freedom of speech which members enjoyed.

Presiding officers must at all times ensure that the rules of Parliament are adhered to in a way that encourages mutual respect, the Speaker said.

"However, all members will recognize that ultimately the Speaker must depend on their collective self-discipline to maintain order, and enforce the rules to foster decorum. It is expected that the Whips should firstly lead by example in this regard, and secondly, ensure that their Members maintain the decorum of the House," she said.

The Speaker said presiding officers had initiated engagements with leaders of political parties last year. "I am convinced that with the commitment we have observed to these engagements, we are bound to find each other in terms of how we provide leadership to those that elected us."

When President Jacob Zuma delivered the Presidency Budget vote, in Parliament, last week, he expressed a concern that everywhere he travels, especially abroad, Heads of State have expressed their disappointment and concern in the manner that the South African Parliament often degenerates into chaos.

On Thursday, the Speaker said away from the television cameras, the spirit among all MPs across political parties was generally very collegial, constructive and friendly. She said members of the public were unaware that many friendships were formed across political parties.

"It is only when the eyes of the television cameras are trained on honourable members that the 'sugar rush' tends to kick in and members disobey the chair, as they do. Lest we forget, our democracy was achieved because of our collective willingness to engage each other, even on difficult issues. We can never get tired of engaging in an effort to find each other," she said

Source: Nam News Network

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