MPs face daily fingerprinting in Parliament


As from today “a more efficient mechanism to record attendance” becomes operational in the National Assembly.

“The biometric member identification system which uses members’ fingerprints – captured at the start of the establishment of the fifth democratic Parliament – will replace the current manual recording system of recording attendance,” a statement issued by Parliament said.

The new way of finding out just who attends the National Assembly on a regular basis will initially only be in force for plenary sittings in the House but will be rolled out to committee meetings later on.

This means those entrusted with overseeing defence and military veterans matters, the Joint Standing Committee, can for the moment rest easy on attendance. With weighty matters including the all-important Defence Review and a proposed new Military Discipline Bill to consider, it is understandable that some members of the 14-strong committee might want their attendance, or lack thereof, preferably recorded via the traditional manner. “It’s far easier, after all, to tell someone you were there and they, after apologising profusely for not seeing you, tick you off as present,” an MP who preferred anonymity as he usually does in the Parliamentary precinct, said.

The Parliamentary statement on the biometric identification system notes MPs attendance at National Assembly and committee sittings was the responsibility of their respective political parties until high-tech arrived on April 1.

The same MP wondered if Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, often used as the example of an MP who is seldom in the House, had ensured her fingerprints were on the new system.

The defence committee is co-chaired by Malusi Motimele and Emmanuel Mlambo with George Michalakis, David Maynier, Mnyamezeli Booi, Tekoetsile Motlashuping, Cathrene Dlamini, Dennis Gamede, Bongani Bongo, Nokhaya Mnisi, James Skosana, Sizani Dlamini-Dubazana, Paul Ramakatsa and Shaid Esau as members.

Work for the country’s elected representatives has also been made easier with the installation of larger desktop screens, additional information system functions, simpler system navigation and interface, quicker start-up time, lower noise levels, reduced heat emissions and power consumption and separate voting and request-to-talk systems. This is part of what Parliamentary said is a “comprehensive information technology upgrade to the National Assembly chamber”.