Hon member, before we move to the sixth order, I would like to attend to a ruling I promised to make. On Thursday, 31 October, during the question session for reply to the President, I recognised hon Mahlatsi to ask a follow-up question to the President. Before asking her follow-up question, hon Mahlatsi made the following statement and I quote:
Thank you, Deputy Speaker, thank you very much, hon President for your compendious response. Firstly, I think it is important to remind the hon Steenhuisen that you are a former general-secretary of a trade union. Therefore, how you relate to communists and trade unionists is none of his business. Quite frankly, he will not dictate to you how you should respond to them.
Hon Mahlatsi's remarks prompted strong interjections and heckling from benches of the DA. The Chief Whip of the
Opposition rose on a point of order and submitted that Assembly Rules require members to address the Chair at all times and not to address another member directly. She stated that hon Mahlatsi spoke directly to the Leader of the Opposition.
I have now ascertained whether Ms Mahlatsi did indeed address the Leader of the Opposition directly. I took it upon myself to come back the House and rule on the point of order raised by the Chief Whip of the Opposition.
I now rule as follows: Assembly Rule 78(2)(a) states that at a sitting in the Chamber of the National Assembly, a member may only speak when the presiding officer so directs. At all other time, a member should address the Chair. Assembly Rule 1425 states that a member who asks a supplementary question may make a statement or express an opinion, but the time allowed for that first supplementary question is limited to two minutes.
It is my considered ruling that the point of order raised by the Chief Whip of the Opposition is not sustainable in terms of Rule 78(2)(a), because as she rose to put a
supplementary question, Ms Mahlantsi addressed the Deputy Speaker. Having acknowledged the Chair, Ms Mahlatsi went on to address the President. She did not address the Leader of the Opposition directly, safe to mention that the Leader of the Opposition needed to be reminded that the President is a former general-secretary of a trade union. Thus, Ms Mahlatsi spoke through the Chair to the President and did not address the Leader of the Opposition.
Furthermore, Ms Mahlatsi exercised her right to express an opinion or make a statement in accordance with Assembly Rule 1425. Rule 1425 does not prescribe the subject of the statement made as a follow-up but only the time allowed, which is two minutes. This allows members the freedom to comment on what was said during the plenary by the executive and other members, generally.
I therefore request that the Chief Whip of the Opposition withdraws her assumption and claim that the member addressed the Leader of the Opposition directly.