Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF) who took part in the disruption of the parliamentary questions and answers session on Thursday will now have to convince speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete not to suspend them from Parliament.
Mbete told Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that its powers and privileges committee will investigate whether the conduct of the EFF MPs constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.
Mbete said while the committee investigates the matter, she – according to the rules – is affording the EFF members concerned an opportunity to give reasons in writing why they should not be suspended.
Mbete said this was in terms of item 10 of the schedule to the rules of the National Assembly, which makes provision for the suspension of MPs where the allegations against them are of a very serious nature.
Mbete said the powers and privileges committee was being requested to deal with the investigation as a matter of urgency with due regard to the rules of the National Assembly and the schedule to the rules and to submit a report and findings and recommendations in terms of rule 194 (2) (b) at the earliest opportunity.
The committee’s function
The committee will be chaired by ANC MP Lemias Mashile, who used to co-chair Parliament’s ethics committee with retired ANC MP Ben Turok. It will be made up of 11 members; six of them from the ANC, two from the Democratic Alliance, one from the EFF and two representing the smaller parties.
The committee’s function is to consider any matter referred to it by the speaker relating to the contempt of Parliament or misconduct by a member. EFF MPs disrupted the proceedings of the National Assembly last Thursday to an extent that the house had to be adjourned in terms of its rules because it had become impossible to continue with its business on that day.
The ANC has called for tough sanctions against the EFF. The ruling party said it was clear that the intentions of EFF were not to engage within the framework of promoting public accountability, but had an intention of undermining not only the purpose of parliament but to promote anarchy and general disrespect.
“This conduct is consistent with people who are hell bent on undermining the rights of those who are duly elected members of Parliament, representing their constituencies in parliament,” said ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa in a statement. The EFF has vowed to continue with similar protests saying it was well within its rights to protest and express its unhappiness.