ACDP refuses to come to EFF's office party
Parliament may have to rap a senior politician over the knuckles following a squabble over prime office space.
The African Christian Democratic Party’s (ACDP’s) leader, Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, is refusing to make way for the new kids on the block – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – because his newly allocated office is smaller and is close to a women’s toilet.
EFF MP Godrich Gardee turned to Parliament’s powerful rules committee, where he aired his frustration on Wednesday.
The committee was seized with the establishment of Parliament’s oversight committees, and as chairperson Baleka Mbete, who is also the National Assembly speaker, was wrapping up, newcomer Gardee asked: “The issue of honourable members refusing to vacate their offices and houses. We don’t know who must evict them ... “
“We are stranded, we are on the streets. The ACDP is refusing to move out of their [old] offices, and members of most parties are not moving out of their houses,” Gardee revealed to a shocked meeting.
“I think we would be able to assist. As soon as we have some details,” Mbete said.
Parliament allocates offices to political parties proportionally on the basis of the number of seats a party received after the general elections. This includes offices or space for the party’s staff.
“Remember, they [parties] get allowance for staff on the basis of their strengths. So, the ANC would have many offices for its MPs and more for its staff than any other party,” explained a Parliament official who cannot be named. “If you lose seats during elections, you lose the power to bargain for bigger space in Parliament.”
But this concept seems to have escaped Meshoe.
When the Mail & Guardian tried to locate the office at issue, it came across Meshoe as he walked out of the office.
He said he was surprised that his reluctance to vacate the office had now become an issue. He made it clear that he was not prepared to vacate the office.
His new office had been previously occupied by the Freedom Front Plus. When that party vacated the office, Meshoe went to inspect it and found that it was too small for his liking and was next door to the ladies loo, he said.
“Then, somebody warned me about the traffic and the noise, and as a person who entertains international guests, I thought it won’t be fair for them to be in a meeting with me and the loo is doing its job,” he said.
But Meshoe’s current office is adjacent to a lift.
‘I am not planning to move’
Meshoe said his office in the last Parliament was flanked by the offices of two Congress of the People MPs for five years, which are now occupied by the EFF.
“We worked well, there was no problem so I thought it would be reasonable to continue that arrangement because that’s the arrangement Parliament had made before ... Currently, I am not planning to move,” he said.
Meshoe admitted to not consulting the EFF, which has been allocated the office by the new Parliament.
EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu was not amused.
“The reverend must leave the office because that is our office. We have been allocated the office, but we hear that he is still negotiating ... Every time we go there, there’s a PA who says they are not leaving, they are negotiating to stay in the office. I don’t know if they think it’s their office.”
Shivambu said Meshoe was holding the EFF to ransom because they now cannot finalise their own allocations. “It’s in our block, it’s an office between two EFF offices and we can’t have him there. We want our privacy,” said Shivambu.