EFF still seeks Nkandla answers as Mbete defers suspension case

The Economic Freedom Fighters MPs during a Parliament sit-in. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters MPs during a Parliament sit-in. (David Harrison, M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs will demand answers from President Jacob Zuma the same way party lawmakers did over a week ago in Parliament, if given another opportunity.

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said his party would continue to seek answers on tax monies spent on Zuma’s Nkandla homestead until the president replies in a satisfactory manner.  

Twenty-five EFF MPs were let off the hook by National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete on Monday, after she deferred the matter to the powers and privileges committee of Parliament. Mbete was expected to ask the National Assembly on Tuesday at its sitting to suspend the EFF MPs, however she changed her mind on Monday – allowing the committee to handle the issue.

The MPs are however not entirely safe, a multiparty committee will look at whether it is necessary to reprimand them and what action would be appropriate for that. Three allegations that the committee needs to investigate against EFF MPs are: disruption of procedures, adjournment of Parliament as a consequence of disruption and prevention of Parliament from finalising its schedule. 

Money ‘unduly spent in Nandla’
Mbete’s decision to halt the move to suspend EFF MPs was viewed as some sort of a victory by Julius Malema’s party.
Spokesperson Ndlozi said the speaker’s decision was “one of the first vindications” of the new opposition party’s position and protest in Parliament over a week ago, demanding that Zuma pays back part of the money “unduly spent in Nkandla”.  

Last week, Mbete suspended Parliament after EFF members started banging on their hard hats shouting  “we want the money” and “Nkandla must be paid”.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on security upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla private home  recommended that the president pays back a portion of the money spent on upgrades that are not related to security needs. Ndlozi said: “EFF maintains that none of its MPs acted outside the rules of parliament and that it will proceed to robustly demand answers from the executive without any fear or favour”. 

Concerns raised
At the meeting of the powers and privileges committee, some MPs questioned why EFF lawmakers such as the party’s chief whip Floyd Shivambu and Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala are allowed to serve on a structure that will take a decision about their fellow party MPs. Shivambu offered to “recuse myself when the committee looks at me, but when you look at all other members, I will be here. This is not a group charge, these are individual charges,” he said. 

In a letter written to the EFF, Mbete’s lawyers said she was of the view that the committee should be given “the space to proceed with the process in an expeditious manner”. Litchfield-Tshabalala raised concerns about Mbete’s objectivity and said it was difficult to know if ANC MPs were sitting on the committee as “honourable members or as representatives of their party. Their party has already made judgments and pronouncements in public”. 

The ANC has called for EFF MPs to be punished for their disruption of a Parliament session where Zuma was answering questions.

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