EFF halts Parliamentary proceedings
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and his fellow EFF MPs on Wednesday made good on a threat to block all motions in the National Assembly, effectively halting the business of the House.
The party blocked all motions from being read out in the House in an apparent tit-for-tat response to one of its MPs being prevented from reading out a motion in the House on Tuesday.
The disruptions started when Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kevin Mileham tried to read out a motion wishing the Bafana Bafana team well ahead of its soccer clash against Nigeria.
EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu interrupted him, saying that the EFF had circulated an email to representatives of all political parties informing them that their motions would be blocked.
“We are teaching you a lesson, my brother,” Malema said to Mileham, who in his rebuttal said he was not related to the fiery EFF politician.
Deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli had his hands full trying to maintain order in the House as ANC and DA MPs insisted they be allowed to submit their motions in the House.
“We are in the same boat,” said ANC chief whip Stone Sizani. “We will read ours [motions] if you will allow us to do so.”
Referring to rule 97 in the Parliamentary rulebook, Shivambu objected, saying: “There’s supposed to be unanimous concurrence on all motions.”
At one stage DA MPs started singing and chanting, but were cut short by a visibly frustrated Tsenoli.
Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor – an experienced parliamentarian – intervened, chiding MPs for their conduct.
“What we are doing may seem pleasant and amusing to some of us but the majority of people out there who are crying for all kinds of services from this House require us to be serious,” Pandor said. “It cannot be that we cannot present motions in the House.”
She suggested Tsenoli suspend proceedings and convene a meeting of the chief whips in a bid to prevent similar situations in the future.
Tsenoli had no alternative but to adjourn proceedings and refer the matter to National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete.