Cape Town – Parliament is aiming to fast track the establishment of a multi-party task team to look into security issues in the national legislature and the parliamentary villages.
The task team comes after security concerns and incidents of break-ins in the offices of MPs over the years.
The decision to establish the task team was taken last month after reports surfaced of a break-in at the office of DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said their intention was to establish the task team when Parliament reconvened this year after the festive holiday.
“This matter will be fast tracked,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
She said the issues of security in parliament were serious now.
The National Assembly and Old Assembly building were gutted by fire about two weeks ago.
“We have no time to waste. We have to convene this task team so that the task team begins in earnest,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
ACDP chief whip Steve Swart echoed the sentiments of Mapisa-Nqakula, saying the security of Parliament was a very serious matter.
“It seems to be too little, too late.
“With hindsight, had we taken up all our responsibilities in this matter then, maybe the devastating fire could have been avoided,” Swart said.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said there should be a decision on the composition of the task team so that it could start soon.
He proposed that all parties be represented, and they be invited to the team.
“It is such an important (matter) that is dealing with all of us. Perhaps, the administration may come with suggestions so that we can start our work in earnest,” Singh said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the names of the people that have been put forward to serve on the committee would be in a report to be tabled next week.
However, there was suggestion to reconsider a decision taken previously that the task team consist of six members.
Mapisa-Nqakula was in support of the small committee.
“If we have a big committee, it may not function as quickly and as efficiently as we would want it. If it had been agreed to have six members, maybe we go with that decision,” she said.
DA deputy chief whip Siviwe Gwarube said a committee with too many people making decisions could be counter-productive.
“The importance of this committee has since become incredibly urgent,” Gwarube said.
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said it may be prudent to work as a larger collective for now, to come up with the terms of reference.
“Once those elements are established and a path is identified, we can reduce the number of people,” he said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said they would start with a broader committee that would develop terms of reference for a smaller body which would work alongside presiding officers on security-related matters.