The Hon. Ms Sibongile Nkomo MP
Secretary General of the Inkatha Freedom Party
On behalf of the IFP, I wish to restate our deep concern over what is happening in Parliament and how it affects the dignity of this institution as well as the image of our country. The IFP has raised this concern many times during the Fifth Parliament.
We appreciate that steps have been taken, even by the Deputy President, to bridge the divide between the opposition and the ruling party on issues such as the need for objectivity and fairness from the Speaker in making rulings.
Unfortunately, we saw how that process of seeking unity was derailed by pre-emptively approaching the media.
We in the IFP feel that mistakes should be learnt from, not repeated. We are concerned, therefore, that the statement prepared by the DA which you have just received could be considered pre-emptive. There seems to be no urgency in this statement being made today, as Parliament rises this afternoon and there is no fear of another intervention by security forces today. Moreover, this matter is before the court, and is thus sub judice.
Beyond that, however, the Speaker of the National Assembly called a meeting of Party Leaders yesterday afternoon, after the sitting, and we all agreed to consult our Caucuses this morning, whereupon the meeting with the Speaker would be continued after this afternoon’s Joint Sitting.
We do not want to act in bad faith, or be seen to be acting in bad faith; and the IFP means it when we say we seek constructive discussions.
Despite these concerns, we did not withdraw from this joint press conference for we believe strongly that action must be taken to protect the dignity and proper functioning of Parliament. In that, we are united with our colleagues in the opposition. We too are anxious to hear from the courts on the matter of security forces entering Parliament.
Unfortunately, following a joint opposition meeting yesterday, the IFP did not receive the statement prepared by the DA until this morning, for consultation in Caucus, as we indicated would be necessary. This left insufficient time to propose amendments to language or content, based on the IFP’s own viewpoint.
We are confident, however, that the IFP’s viewpoint is already well-known on this issue. Ladies and gentlemen of the media, you know that the IFP pursues constructive engagement and negotiations. That is the character of our Party, unchanged for 40 years. For the sake of our country, and our Parliament, we will continue to seek solutions.
I thank you.