Summon Percy to Parly - irate MPs
LOBAMBA – Members of Parliament (MPs) want Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, summoned to parliament to answer on some statements he made about them on SBIS radio yesterday morning.
Simelane happened to rub MPs the wrong way when he answered questions about the Value Added Tax (VAT), particularly when addressing the confusion that emanated from the MPs’ motion over the regulations governing this tax. The VAT came into effect on Sunday.
Simelane was expressing gover-nment’s view that the VAT will continue as planned regardless of the motion moved in Parliament on Monday this week.
However, in parliament yesterday, MPs were clearly unhappy about the Government Press Secretary’s statements. They want Simelane to be brought before the parliamentary Sessional Committee to answer because they felt insulted by him. They also want an unreserved apology.
Lobamba Lomdzala MP, Marwick Khumalo, said Simelane portrayed MPs in a negative light to the public.
"The Sessional Committee must get Simelane here so that he can be called to order on how to relate to MPs and also to get to understand how parliament works. Simelane does not even come here; he relies on second hand information obtained from his bosses (Cabinet) as they control the media," alleged Khumalo.
He added that MPs actually never said the VAT should be set aside. He said there was no way they could do that because they were the ones who passed it into law.
"Government knew this, but they still used Simelane to portray an incorrect picture about us on radio. We are honourable MPs and not civil servants, so he had no right to address us in this manner. Government should not have used their ‘messenger boy’ to address us," he said.
Khumalo said if government allowed a civil servant to talk politics then other civil servants should be allowed to do so.
He said it was imperative that Prince Guduza, Speaker of the House of Assembly, has a word with Simelane.
"It now seems that parliament is at Hospital Hill (Cabinet offices), not where it’s supposed to be," he said.
Nkhaba MP Enock Dlamini said Simelane had to speak like he did so that he did not end up losing his livelihood. He had to carry out the instructions of his superiors.
‘He is setting MPs against nation’
LOBAMBA – Mts-ambama MP Bheki Mkhonta says Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane was setting MPs against the nation.
"Simelane was short of saying we are fools and that we are mad on national radio," said Mkhonta.
Mtfongwaneni MP Patrick Gamedze, said Simelane’s statements on radio had the potential to divide parliament and Cabinet and make it seem like these two entities cannot work together.
He said Simelane must apologise for the damage he has already caused.
Ludzeludze MP Nonhlanhla Dlamini said Simelane lambasted MPs on radio with his statements by saying things such as "MPs are joking" on the VAT issue.
Nhlambeni MP Frans Dlamini wondered what made Simelane get up in the morning just to speak things he did not have full knowledge of.
We only aim to address VAT regulations - Enock
LOBAMBA – The suspension of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act is not desired by MPs, but they really want the regulations set aside for a while in order to address them.
"When we were here on Monday we spoke about the suspension of regulations, it’s not like we don’t want VAT," said MP Enock Dlamini.
MP Gibson Hlophe added that as far as he could remember no one said "away with VAT".
"We are aware and prepared to pay VAT, but we have seen discrepancies that must be addressed," he said.
However, the big question that somewhat seemed difficult to clarify was whether or not the suspension of regulations automatically meant the suspension of the Act. Attorney General (AG) Majahenkhaba Dlamini was called to differentiate between regulations and the actual law.
His response was that the definition of the law included regulations. He said regulations can be amended. In a separate interview, when asked whether or not an Act could function while regulations are suspended, he said this depended on whether or not the rates in the VAT matter discussed were tied up with the Act or regulations.
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