August 7, 2012 the Constitutional Court will hear the application
of IFP MP MGR Oriani-Ambrosini seeking the declaration of
unconstitutionality of the Rules of Parliament which prohibit a Member of
Parliament from introducing a Bill in Parliament unless he or she has first
received the permission to do so by the majority of the National Assembly.
There seems to be common cause that such permission requirement has no
precedent in the democratic world or in parliamentarian history. Because of
the permission requirement many meritorious Bills have never seen the light
of day, the most recent being the intended Bill of Athol Trollip, MP which
intended to extend to the President the requirements of financial disclosure
and transparency which are applicable to Cabinet members.
This proposal was not allowed to be introduced as a Bill on the basis of it being deemed
frivolous because the President - any president - was deemed to be beyond
reproach. Oriani-Ambrosini's application aims at enabling Members of
Parliament to do the job he or she is called upon to perform by the
Constitution, and to do so on a par with any Member of Parliament anywhere
in the world.
The main responsibility of that job is to introduce
legislation. If successful, Oriani-Ambrosini's application will benefit all
Members of Parliament, including all the ANC backbenchers in our democracy.
In any case, this matter will enable the Constitutional Court to define one
of the most important features of our parliamentary democracy. With
Parliament being at the centre of our democracy, it will have a crucial
bearing on our democratic future. Advocate David Unterhalter, SC will be
arguing the application.