Yesterday, members of the National Assembly met to discuss the preliminary agenda for the Assembly’s next session.
During the discussions, the members also considered if the entire proceedings of the National Assembly should once again be broadcast on live TV. After exchanging the same old arguments – from the need to promote transparency by those favoring live TV, to the importance of preventing the public from influencing legislative debate by those against live TV – the members passed the buck to their speaker.
The Constitution and the National Assembly Act both empower the Speaker to prevent the media from attending all or part of the Assembly’s proceedings. So the MPs reasoned that the Speaker alone must decide if the partial ban on live TV broadcast should be lifted.
They are correct. Article 10 Section 15 of the Constitution states that:
The proceedings of Parliament shall be conducted in public. However, the Speaker of the Chairperson may exclude the press and the public from all or any part of the proceedings if there is a compelling need to do so in the interests of public order, national security or any other situation, where publicity would seriously prejudice public interest.
I am hopeful that the Speaker will decide that live TV broadcast does not compromise public order or national security; that it does not prejudice the public interest; and that, in fact, it enhances transparency, accountability and the democratic process.
I am hopeful that the Speaker will allow the resumption live TV broadcast.