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Mbete shuts down DA's urgent question on Zuma jet

The Democratic Alliance was outraged on Thursday that the Speaker of Parliament would not allow an urgent question about reports that President Jacob Zuma might get a R4bn jet.

"But the president is here," wailed DA leader Mmusi Maimane as Speaker Baleka Mbete said she had turned down a written request from the DA whip John Steenhuisen.

Steenhuisen wanted permission to put the question to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula because, in Parliament, questions can only be posed through the Speaker and members are not supposed to address each other directly. They also have to send questions in writing ahead of the sitting.
 Mbete shuts down DA's urgent question on Zuma jet
Mbete wrapped up Thursday's session with Zuma by saying that the rules did not allow Parliament to accede to the DA's requests.

As MPs started reaching for their bags Maimane interrupted: "Speaker... on a point of order... but the president is here..."

"There are no shortcuts, honourable Maimane," replied Mbete.

"It's not a shortcut... why are you protecting him?"

African National Congress MP Dorris Dlakude insisted there were procedures and accused the DA of grandstanding.

"It's the last session of Parliament..." railed Maimane, referring to Zuma's last scheduled appearance this year.

But Mbete simply replied: "Honourable members, the House is adjourned."

Afterwards, Maimane said in a statement that Zuma had dodged a chance to publicly denounce the purchase of the jet, laughing through his question session instead.

"Last week, I requested that President Zuma makes an executive statement in rejection of the jet in Parliament today before his oral question session. The President neither acceded to this request nor responded to my letter.

"These actions echo President Zuma’s statement earlier this week about the primacy of the ANC. It is patently clear that his own priorities come before those of ordinary South Africans."

Sunday newspaper Rapport reported recently that the SA Air Force was investigating the possibility of buying a long-range 30-seater jet for Zuma, which could cost as much as R4bn.
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