EFF threatened with parliamentary sanctions

Julius Malema in Parliament. (David Harrison, M&G)

Julius Malema in Parliament. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was warned on Friday that it risks parliamentary sanction as President Jacob Zuma closed the bitterly partisan debate on his State of the Nation Address with a call to the opposition to refrain from personal attacks.

Without naming the particular MP, Thandi Modise, who chaired the joint sitting for the last stretch of the debate, said an EFF MP behaved unacceptably as party leader Julius Malema led a walkout from the National Assembly chamber on Thursday night and hinted he could be disciplined.

“While leaving, disruptive and unacceptable behaviour was demonstrated by a member of those honourable members,” Modise said. “This could very well be a matter that could reside under the mandate of the powers and privileges committee.”

Minutes before, Zuma had told MPs he believed South Africans watched the debate closely to see how parties performed so that they could decide whether they would continue to vote for them.

He added: “I would like to appeal that, as we continue the debates, we must indeed be seen by the country that we all love our country, that we don’t want to deal with one another as individuals because that reduces the debate of the country to individual debates.”

Tit-for-tat fight
Wednesday and Thursday’s debate on Zuma’s speech became a tit-for-tat fight, after criticism of Zuma from Malema and Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane. Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu also retorted with scathing put-downs.

Malema accused Zuma of being “scared of white people, particularly white monopoly capital” and Maimane said voters were used to the president being at the centre of scandals and would not trust him until he dealt openly with the use of public funds to improve his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Malema, who was delivering his maiden speech in the legislature, also charged that the “the ANC massacred the people in Marikana”.

Modise on Thursday night ruled that the statement was unparliamentary and ordered Malema to withdraw it. He refused, saying the ANC readily took credit when crime rates went down, and should therefore shoulder the blame for the shooting of striking mineworkers at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012.

Malema was then ordered to leave Parliament by Modise, and his colleagues followed him out of the chamber in solidarity, protesting as they went. One of them shouted out that Modise was the premier of North West at time of the shooting.

She responded: “Yes, I was the premier.” – Sapa

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