Fortification of Parliament does not serve democracy: DA

The Democratic Alliance says it will continue to oppose the costly and unnecessary security upgrades to Parliament which it does not believe supports the effective functioning of the House.

The party’s chief whip‚ John Steenhuisen‚ said the DA was deeply concerned over the increasing securitisation of Parliament‚ including mooted security upgrades involving full body scanners and bulletproof glass panels surrounding the public gallery.

He said it was becoming commonplace for the parliamentary precinct to be locked down ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s visits to the legislature.

This included a familiar influx of uniformed police officers and the spreading of barb wire along the perimeter‚ but also involved unidentified members of the intelligence agencies‚ such as those who famously installed signal jammers in the National Assembly ahead of Zuma’s State of the Nation address.

“We will not allow the securitisation of Parliament which further separates the people from those who are supposed to serve them.

I will raise this and other concerns at a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament.

The committee has been scheduled to meet on 23 September following my appeal to the Speaker earlier this week‚” Steenhuisen said.

He added that Parliament was a public institution and that the parliamentary precinct should not become inaccessible to the public wishing to see the work done in the legislature.

“This is the People’s Parliament and the People should be able to exercise oversight over its functioning. It should be made as easy as possible and as safe as possible to do.

“The proposed draconian security upgrades will not only undermine democracy‚ its exorbitant cost will also threaten the effective functioning of Parliament.

The parliamentary budget is already overextended‚ notably through unrestrained and unchecked spending by the Secretary to Parliament‚ Mr Gengezi Mgidlana‚ and costly labour disputes involving the same.

We cannot allow dysfunction to take root at this institution‚” Steenhuisen asserted.

Leave a Reply