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Keep the spooks out of parliament, says ANC


Keep the spooks out of parliament, says ANC

Ruling party uses Sona debate to highlight areas of government that are in need of a thorough spring-clean

Parliamentary editor

The ANC in parliament no longer wants the State Security Agency to be involved in preparations for official openings of the national legislature.
In a tacit admission that the involvement of the spooks in previous openings of parliament should not have been allowed, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the role of the SSA during preparations for the state of the nation address should be revisited.
Speaking during the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa's Sona delivered on Friday night, Mthembu said involvement of the SSA in the planning of Sona undermined the independence of parliament.
“The independence of parliament as an arm of the state remains sacrosanct. We must therefore review the role of the SSA in the business of parliament,” said Mthembu.“Though something as minute as the assistance of the State Security Agency (SSA) during Sona might not be an issue in itself, it does however speak to the total and complete independence of parliament as a separate arm of state.”
Parliament has in the past few years come under fire for its heightened security during the Sona, which has meant hundreds of policemen, soldiers and members of the SSA taking charge on the day of the address.
SSA agents have also taken control of the accreditation of guests and working journalists, and parliament was embarrassed in 2015 when spooks used their spying devices to jam the cellphone signal during that year’s address. This was declared unlawful by the high court in 2016.
More teeth for A-G
Mthembu also said that, as part of repositioning  parliament as a “strategic value add arm of the state”, the auditor-general would soon be given powers to personally hold public service managers liable for monies lost through wasteful spending.
He said the government has lost more than a R127-billion through acts of irregular expenditure between 2013 and 2017.
“It is for this reason that parliament will in the next coming weeks finalise legislation which seeks to give the A-G more teeth to decisively deal with those who waste our hard-earned taxpayers’ monies, with an intention of having such monies recouped and those responsible being held personally liable,” he said.
More pressure on Ramaphosa
DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his EFF counterpart Julius Malema used their speeches to pile pressure on Ramaphosa to axe controversial ministers from his cabinet.
“Show South Africa you are really serious about fighting corruption in your party and fire Bathabile Dlamini, Faith Muthambi, Mosebenzi Zwane, Malusi Gigaba, Des van Rooyen, David Mahlobo, Lynne Brown and Bongani Bongo,” said Maimane.
Malema said: “I don't understand, Mr President, why would you have Faith Muthambi as a minister, and not have Thoko Didiza?”
Muthambi chuckled.
Didiza is one of the chairpersons of the National Assembly who commands respect among opposition MPs.

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