While the ANC has seemingly backtracked on its pronouncements that President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must be shielded from accounting to Parliament, it wants Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs dealt with “harshly”.
In a press conference on Monday, following its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the weekend, ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe was unequivocal that Parliament must crack the whip against the red berets who have a penchant for disrupting sittings of the house.
“If you are deviating from the rules, Parliament must be harsh,” he said.
The three day meeting of the highest decision making body of the ANC appeared to have mulled at length on the EFF’s disruptive antics.
“All we want Parliament to do is enforce the rules of Parliament,” Mantashe said.
Last Wednesday, EFF leaders were thrown out of Parliament for the second time. Leader Julius Malema and his Chief Whip Floyd Shivumbu were ordered to leave the National Assembly after accusing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of “murdering” 34 Marikana mineworkers.
Shivumbu showed Ramaphosa the middle finger before being hauled out of the National Assembly. He later revoked the gesture.
“What is robust about showing a middle finger to the deputy president?” Mantashe rhetorically asked at the press briefing.
Prior to this, the EFF caused mayhem in a parliamentary session where President Jacob Zuma was answering questions. “Pay back the money,” they chanted.
“To this end the NEC noted the extent to which parliamentary processes have descended into chaos and the unruly offensive on the ANC in Parliament, Parliament itself and on democracy in our country,” Mantashe said.
Parliament not a ‘battleground’
He said hooliganism and insults were at an unprecedented level, adding that Parliament could not become a “battleground”.
“The decorum and dignity of Parliament as an institution is being dragged through the mud under the cover of the right to be robust,” Mantashe said.
The Sunday Times had previously reported that the NEC wanted Parliament to protect President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa from “humiliation and embarrassment” from opposition parties.
Mantashe said the NEC had made the decision that Zuma and Ramaphosa should account to the people through imbizos in communities.
“The more Parliament gets disrupted and the opportunity for answering questions is closed, there is less contact with our people.”
Mantashe insisted that launching the imbizo programme was not undermining democracy.
“The ANC has a revolutionary duty to defend itself, the revolution and democracy,” he said.