An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon President and Deputy President, hon members of the House, I cannot but recall on this occasion when PW Botha offered Nelson Mandela release from prison on certain conditions that Madiba responded that that was unacceptable. But he said something special. He said “I value my freedom, but I love yours even more.” “I value my freedom, but I love yours more.” Shortly thereafter he led our country in drafting this Constitution, and he was the first to sign that this was the valid, correct route to follow.
He was the first to take the oath of office under this Constitution. So if we are going to take a look and take a decision whether Vote 1 deserves our support or not, we must evaluate the performance of the incumbent against what the Constitution says should be done. And we must also evaluate the performance of the incumbent against what he said in the oath of office. Any other thing, I think, would be to judge an individual on the basis of subjective feelings and all of that. But let’s look at what it says.
Section 83 of the Constitution says that the President must uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and, secondly, that he must promote the unity of the nation and that which will advance the Republic. These are objective tests against which we must look at this – the Vote – before us.
In the oath of office the incumbent took an oath that says, “I will protect and promote the rights of all South Africans”, and, secondly, “I will do justice to all.” This is not what we think or what we want to judge. Let’s judge against what the Constitution says and what the incumbent accepted as a responsibility.
Of course the Constitution also says what these rights of the people are. Section 16(1)(a) says that the freedom of the press and other media is one of those freedoms of the citizens of the country. So when the incumbent accepts that he will uphold the rights of everybody, one of those rights is the right of freedom of press and other media. So last week Haffajee exercised that right. She did so in the firm belief that the President of the Republic would protect her rights, as enshrined in the Constitution. [Interjections.]
We, in the meantime, had given the hon President a budget which would enable him to fulfil that task. [Interjections.] And yet to this day I have not heard a word from the President, a voice from the President: “Defend her right to do that which she had she done.” [Interjections.]
That’s why Madiba said, “I value my freedom, but I love yours even more.” [Interjections.] The leadership we expected is that of Madiba: “I value my freedom” in this Constitution. [Interjections.] “I value my freedom, but I love yours more.” The President, in taking the oath of office, gave us the commitment that he would do so. He gave that to Ferial Haffajee, and when the moment came he was not to be found.
Madiba did not say – when they say you must come out of jail – “It hurts to fight for your freedom.” He didn’t say it hurts. He said: “I value my freedom”; “I love yours even more.” [Interjections.] And that is what we want and, I think, on that basis, we will not support this budget. Wasted money! [Interjections.]
Similarly, Brett Murray who struggled with us along the streets and towns of this country under the United Democratic Front against the old order, fought for the right of artistic expression. When he had done that, he voted for the ruling party. When he used the same artistic expression he had used against apartheid to criticise some practices, expecting that the party which he had fought for and fought with for freedom, would defend his right … No. The office that had committed to that was found not to be present. [Interjections.] It was not there. [Applause.]
I say that is a violation of the oath of office. The President should not have been absent at a time when the rights of an individual were now being trampled underfoot. [Interjections.] Thirdly …
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, could you just wait.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Mrs D D Pule)*: Madam Deputy Speaker, firstly, I just want to ask the hon member to lower his voice. [Interjections.] And, secondly, I want to ask if he could take a question.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just sit down, hon Lekota.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Mrs D D Pule): I want to ask if he could take a question. He’s speaking very loudly. I can’t hear what he’s saying.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Could you take a question?
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Speaker, my time is being … [Inaudible.] … not taking any question. I’m still delivering my speech. [Laughter.]
Similarly, when the owners of the Goodman Gallery exercised their rights in terms of the rights in this Constitution and so on, they did so because they believed that the highest office in the land would make itself available to defend their rights.
Madam Deputy Speaker, if you could just correct the minutes for that item. They go beyond … [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (Mr K M N Gigaba): Hon Deputy Speaker, is the hon Shilowa prepared to stand there and defend the President’s right to dignity? [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is that a point of order?
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (Mr K M N Gigaba): It’s a question. Is he prepared to defend the President’s right to human dignity? [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That’s not the hon Shilowa. [Laughter.] What are you saying? [Laughter.] [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES (Mr K M N Gigaba*): I’m thinking about the freedoms of the hon Shilowa, the freedoms he did not defend.
Ms T B SUNDUZA: Point of order, hon Deputy Speaker …
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes.
Ms T B SUNDUZA: Could the hon member please stop with the hate speech and deliver his speech?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That’s not a point of order. Hon members, when you stand up could you please make real points of order? You are really wasting our time.
Ms A DLODLO: Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I think it is very out of order for the hon Shilowa there to mislead the nation when he says that during apartheid Brett Murray drew people’s things. That is misleading the nation. It is not true. Please! [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota, please continue.
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, I have only one request: it is that you must protect me. I can’t be humiliated in front of you, and you don’t say anything about these things. [Interjections.] [Applause.] I make that request only. I want to proceed, Madam Deputy Speaker. I hope that you have also taken my time … the time that has been taken from me. Please; if you can take that.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: If you continue now.
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Thank you, Madam.
So I say, again, that on that point we will not support this Vote.
Thirdly, with regard to the owners of the Goodman Gallery, their rights were violated. The Office of the President did not defend … again, violating the oath of office. Where is the commitment that was made that “I will defend the rights of everybody”, when the rights of these individuals are violated in this way? And we must consider that it is a serious issue for an oath of office to be violated in this way.
The fourth point I want to make is that the matter was placed before the judiciary of our nation. Part of the defence of the Constitution is that the highest office has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, including the judiciary. Whilst the judiciary was busy considering the matter, the Ministers – the executive, which is presided over by the President – in the person of hon Minister Blade Nzimande and in the person of hon Minister Mashatile … We have seen them over time mobilising numbers of people to intimidate and to demand behaviour that went ahead of the outcome of the court process. And yet we did not hear a word from the President, saying to our nation, saying to those who follow him and who work under him: “It is wrong for you to undermine the judiciary of our nation.” [Interjections.]
This is a violation of the oath of office … [Applause.] … and the President gave us a commitment when he took the oath of office that he would defend the rights of all of us, and yet this is what we have seen. To this day we are dying to hear whether anything will happen. The secretary-general of the ruling party is now leading groups of young people on the streets of our nation, calling himself a general, demanding apologies from citizens who have done nothing but exercised their constitutionally enshrined rights, and yet we have not heard a word from the executive.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota, there is a point of order.
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, I am seated.
Mrs M T KUBAYI: Madam Speaker, I don’t think the speaker should abuse the podium. [Interjections.] This is a Budget Vote speech. If he wants to introduce a discussion on freedom of expression, he has the authority to do so and the proper channels to follow. This is a Budget Vote speech. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Continue, hon Lekota.
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, I am discussing the budget. I am discussing the fact that we gave money for the President to use to defend the rights of the people, to ensure that each one of us enjoys these freedoms – and that not only the will of the majority, who can mobilise mobs, must prevail. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
The only institution in our nation which must regulate behaviour …
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota, there is another point of order, please.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Deputy Speaker, the hon Lekota is noisy. He is treating this Parliament as a rally. [Interjections.] Hon Deputy Speaker, we are being treated as a rally. [Interjections.] Now we are here …
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Chief Whip, could you allow the hon Lekota to conclude his speech? He is about to conclude.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: But he is shouting at us.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota, could you just address the House. Give your points in a manner that is not … [Interjections.]
Mr M G P LEKOTA: No, I am sorry, Madam Speaker. That is not … [Interjections.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Speaker, will you take a point of order please? You are not allowed to impinge on the freedom of speech of a speaker in this House. [Applause.]
Mrs J D KILIAN: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We expect the presiding officers of this House to give every member the right to express him or herself without interruption by the rule of the tyranny of the majority.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota, could you continue? I am not going to allow any more points of order.
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Now I am saddened to see what is going on in the House. If the masses of the people on the streets will beat up and compel people to apologise and so on … they are looking at this behaviour here. [Interjections.] They are looking at this thing that is happening here. The President is entitled to silence to hear what I am saying, because he has to reply tomorrow.
But there is no respect for the President. There is a lot of noise so that he cannot hear. I do say that a number of things have been done now. Haffajee has been compelled to apologise. This has been removed. The pictures have been removed. The Minister of Arts and Culture has compelled an apology out of the … Where is the rule of law? Where is the rule of law? The judiciary is still sitting and considering the application before it, and the ruling party has used masses of people to compel the direction of things and so on.
This is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany. [Applause.] [Interjections.] The Storm Troopers were used to attack the opponents of the regime of Hitler. In this way the constitution was thrown out and the next thing that happened is that the law of the land was dictated by Hitler and his Storm Troopers. We cannot accept that in this country. As a nation we must rise up …
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota … Hon Lekota … Hon Lekota!
Mr M G P LEKOTA: … and conscience … the question of conscience must face up to this. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota … Order! Hon Lekota, your time is up. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, I will like all those whose rights are being violated to continue to oppose … [Applause.]
Mrs J D KILIAN: Hon Deputy Speaker, may I please address you on a point of order?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes.
Mrs J D KILIAN: I want to ask you to make a ruling on a comment made by the hon member who is standing at this stage, who referred to the speaker to say that he can continue his hate speech. I want a ruling if that is parliamentary conduct. Could you please make a ruling on that?
Ms T B SUNDUZA: Hon Deputy Speaker, is it parliamentary for this government to be compared to Nazi Germany? Is it parliamentary?
HON MEMBERS: Yes! [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is a speaker on the floor. Hon Nzimande?
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: I am raising a point of order, Madam Speaker. I respected you so that the hon member could finish. I would really request that you make a ruling. If a member of this House can stand up and make a very serious thing to say the President has violated his oath of office … [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: … of freedom of speech!
HON MEMBERS: Yes!
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: … because such a statement is very serious. Such a thing actually leads to impeachment. We can debate and be critical, but to allow this, Madam Speaker … I ask you to make a ruling on this: of someone who just, in a casual way, stand up and say the President has violated his oath of office. I would request your ruling on that, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Okay. All the requests for rulings are noted. I am sure the Table is noting that. We will do that later.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Speaker, I would occasion you to rule in terms of our Rules and not the Rules of the Communist Party. [Interjections.] [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, with your permission, this Constitution says that we may raise an issue here … [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Lekota, you had your time. Please! Could you sit down. You had your time. Hon Buthelezi, you may proceed, Tata.
THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT / LB / END OF TAKEBACK TO TOP