Interjections and frustration as EFF disciplinary hearing gets underway
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) parliamentary disciplinary hearing began on Tuesday with the feisty new party making life difficult for the committee members questioning its 20 MPs charged with disciplinary infringements relating to the recent disruptions in Parliament.
Proceedings began with disciplinary charges relating to the recent disruption of President Jacob Zuma’s question time in Parliament being read out to EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.
Initiator Darryl van Voore, for Parliament’s powers and privileges committee, put seven charges to Shivambu.
Among the charges were that Shivambu failed to keep quiet and sit down after being instructed to do so by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete while Zuma was answering questions on the Nkandla controversy on August 21.
His conduct impeded the House in performing its function of oversight over the executive. Most of the charges relate to his alleged contempt of Parliament, as EFF members chanted “pay back the money” at Zuma.
Van Voore said this conduct resulted in the Assembly adjourning for the day.
‘Waste of time’
As he began reading the charges against a second EFF MP, party leader Julius Malema interrupted.
“We have received the charges. I think the best way will be to ask us one by one if we confirm we received the charges and we understand, and then we say yes and proceed,” Malema said.
Van Voore had asked Shivambu to plead but Malema intervened, saying all charges should be read first, and he would then make his submission before his colleagues would plead.
He asked committee chairperson Lemias Mashile to stop Van Voore as it was a “waste of time” to read the charges as they had all received these last month.
Proceedings were suspended for five minutes to consider this.
The committee agreed to the request and all accused were to be asked to confirm that they had received and understood the charges, starting with Shivambu.
Shivambu immediately objected to the manner in which Van Voore did it – one of many interjections by the accused.
He said Van Voore should ask whether he had read and received the charges only, because he would not answer a question on whether he agreed to the manner in which the charges were put to him.
Mashile was forced to ask Van Voore to start afresh.
He expressed frustration with the EFF’s constant questioning of proceedings.
The inquiry is scheduled to sit for five days to determine whether the behaviour of the EFF MPs, who chanted “pay back the money” to Zuma during question time in the National Assembly on August 21, constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.
The MPs in question had been unhappy with Zuma’s reply to a question about when he was going to “pay back” part of the money spent on the R246-million security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. – Sapa and staff reporter