Before I continue I would like to make it clear that I am in no way a supporter of the DA. I think that the DA is weak on moral issues and as a party has very little different to offer South Africans than the ANC.
That said, the way the speaker of parliament handled a question from DA MP, Mike Waters, is scandalous! Mr. Waters asked the following two-part question concerning our Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang:
"(1) Whether, in light of the allegations in recent media reports, she had been convicted of theft in 1976 or thereabouts while employed at the Athlone Hospital in Botswana; if so,
(2) Whether she disclosed this information to the President when she was informed of his decision to appoint her to this portfolio; if not, why not; if so, what was his response?"
At the last minute the speaker ruled that the question by Waters was out of order, based on rule 63 of the National Assembly, which forbids the use of offensive or unbecoming language.
It would be interesting to know exactly what was offensive or unbecoming about the words of the question! If these words are taken at face value, it is abundantly clear that the Speaker made a judgement call, not based on the facts at hand, but on what she perceived in the question itself. She applied rule 63 to something that clearly did not exist!
Waters was after the facts of the matter, and it is only right that the ANC and the health minister should play open cards and come out with the truth.
I am not sure that Speaker Baleka Mbete was after the truth. She claims that it is an established principle in parliament that allegations against other MPs should be brought by way of a substantive motion. Mbete is so blind that she cannot distinguish between a question and an allegation! I cannot see anything in the question that directly accuses the health minister of anything at all! It is a question for goodness sake, NOT an allegation!
Please don't tell me that it was Mr. Waters' intention to make allegations through this question. Would you presume to know what he was thinking or what the intentions of his heart were? We have no way to know what Waters was thinking or what his intentions were. We can guess or make our own claims, but that would not provide evidence in the least.
The end result of the question by Mr. Waters was that he was suspended from the parliamentary precinct for 5 working days! Why in the world was this done? The ANC is so power-hungry, and it seems that speaker Mbete is infected with the same virus! Even though she had no right, based on rule 63, to disallow Mr. Waters' question, after he insisted that she points him to the exact words in his question that were offensive or unbecoming, she suspended him.
We live in a world where parents are constantly told not to say to their children, "Because I said so!" Obviously, Mbete hasn't seen this memo! In the end, that is all it came down to. It was her against Mr. Waters.
What is so interesting is that the DA Chief Whip spoke to speaker Mbete the next day. What was Mbete's response? She was not prepared to get into a debate on her ruling and use of rule 63! My, my , my! What an intellectually astute person she is! She could not give a proper reason for her ruling, because she had none! And she probably knew it!
What really is interesting is that Smuts Ngonyama, ANC head of the presidency, made a statement to the effect that President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC knew about the previous conviction for theft of the health minister! How disingenuous the ANC was on the day that the speaker made the ruling! They all knew that the question by Mr. Waters was not an allegation but a question, but still kept their silence on the issue while knowing that the minister had been convicted previously!
It really seems to me that the ANC is not concerned with the truth, but rather with hide-and-seek games in order to keep themselves in power. They probably know that the truth will not set them free, but rather liberate a nation held captive by the lies and deceit of the ANC.