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Parliament votes for itself in histrionic session

Ideas

Parliament votes for itself in histrionic session

A ‘parliamentary democracy’ is being proposed, but watching MPs this week hints at how that future might pan out

Columnist

When the National Assembly building was cloaked in ashes earlier this year, among the suggestions for rehousing honourable members while the structure was being rebuilt (to be completed near the end of Herman Mashaba’s second presidential term, in about 2034) was that a giant marquee be erected in the parking lot. Basically a circus tent, which is an ideal home for the magicians, jugglers, high-rope walkers, ventriloquists, fire-eaters (and breathers), a few lovable clowns and the chorus of choir-donkeys who are our MPs, elected mostly for their ability to mimic just about any barn creature, and do so in unerring unison. 

When the German Reichstag was burnt down in 1933, Adolf Hitler used his powers as chancellor to indulge in a murderous orgy of violence against communists; when our parliament burnt down in 2022 it, too, set off an orgy — of shopping among nationalists and communists alike (or at least the enthusiastic drawing up of shopping lists) for new premises, furniture, drapery, caterers, waiters, ushers, attendants, barmen and bell-ringers. Not forgetting refreshments, and of course crates of bottled water for MPs when much of the country makes do with the product of neglected wastewater treatment plants.

After this week’s failed motion of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet, a circus tent strongly suggests itself as the most appropriate accommodation for this giggle of clowns, so spectacularly out of tune and time with a public (normal people) facing endless price increases, a dormant economy and routine crime. Bafflingly, the ministers who were the subject of the vote were able to vote for their own extended tenures, a rare instance of self-service in environs where MPs are waited on as if they were at a never-ending Gupta wedding. ..

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