Heavy disciplinary action will have to be taken against African National Congress (ANC) MPs who were not present in the National Assembly for the debate on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill‚ and who could not provide a justifiable excuse for their absence‚ Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Thursday.
Radebe said the failure to pass the bill was “disappointing and a matter of great concern”‚ and was discussed by Cabinet on Wednesday. The bill was not able to be adopted by the National Assembly on both Tuesday and Wednesday because of the lack of a quorum due to absent ANC MPs.
He also said the MPs were elected as representatives of the people and were accountable to them. “It is very bad for Parliament not to be able to pass a budget”‚ as this was required for government to undertake its programmes‚ he said.
Minister Radebe said the ANC’s political committee‚ chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ would deal with the matter and decide what action to take against the MPs. The ANC will hold a press briefing later on Thursday to deal with the matter.
The DA finance spokesman David Maynier said the failure for the second time to adopt the bill represented a “humiliating defeat” for the ruling party. It will now be submitted to the National Assembly again next week for adoption.
The bill was tabled two weeks ago by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan with the medium-term budget policy statement. It provides for a R5.41-billion adjustment to the budget.
“Despite two votes‚ two ‘three-line-whips’‚ making attendance mandatory‚ and numerous text messages pleading with members to vote‚ the ANC could not muster enough votes to form quorum and pass the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill‚” Maynier said in a statement.
“Not even Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s last-minute dash to vote was enough to prevent the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill from being defeated a second time in Parliament.
“The poor chief whip of the majority party‚ Jackson Mthembu‚ was so desperate before the vote that he switched to ‘rapid fire’‚ sending out text messages‚ pleading with members to vote.
“What this proves is that the ANC are now so internally divided‚ so dysfunctional‚ so disinterested and so poorly disciplined that they are not even capable of getting the basics right‚ which is simply to show up and vote in Parliament.”
Maynier said the DA did not support the bill‚ believing that it provided for an “unfair share” of revenue between the national‚ provincial and municipal spheres of government.