Court dismisses EFF's interdict
The urgent interdict by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), that was heard Monday night, sought to stop Parliament from holding an inquiry into their behaviour.
However, the court ruling was made just after Parliament postponed the inquiry by a week, to allow the last minute court process by the EFF to run its course. The launch of the interdict was the reason Parliament postponed the inquiry, which was set to begin on Tuesday and scheduled to sit for five days to determine whether the behaviour of 20 EFF MPs who chanted “pay back the money” to President Jacob Zuma during question time constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.
EFF charged that the process to be conducted by Parliament’s powers and privileges committee, which deal with MPs’ disciplinary matters, would be unfair and labelled it a kangaroo court. The party wanted the court to interdict “the intention of the ANC to exclude the EFF from Parliament”.
“It can never be correct that a political party, which was elected by more than 1-million people should be subjected to a quasi-disciplinary process that is dominated and controlled by the political enemy, the ruling party,” said EFF party whip, Floyd Shivambu.
Referring to the inquiry by the powers and privileges committee as a “quasi-disciplinary process”, Shivambu said it would be unfair for EFF MPs to subject themselves to a process presided over by the ruling party “which under circumstances is the judge, the complainant and witness in this same matter”.
Proceedings of the National Assembly were brought to a sudden halt on August 21 due to a political standoff when EFF MPs disrupted a session where questions were posed to the president. Chairperson of the powers and privileges committee, Lemias Mashile, told the Mail & Guardian last week that the inquiry was being held during recess because it had to be finalised.
Mashile said the recess made it easier to finalise the matter, as MPs would be available to appear before his committee, and would not be held up in other Parliamentary committees. Parliament went on recess on Monday and will resume on October 13.
The 20 EFF MPs face a range of charges, with the common charge among all of them being that of refusing to leave the National Assembly chamber when ordered to do so by Speaker Baleka Mbete.
Mashile said some MPs face extra charges for disturbing the proceedings and for defying the speaker by refusing to take their seat when instructed to do so. The notices stating the charges against each of the 20 members and prepared by Randall van Voore, the independent initiator appointed by the committee were served last week..