EFF MPs likely to be suspended from Parly

EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu walk out of a disciplinary hearing. (David Harrison, M&G)

EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu walk out of a disciplinary hearing. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Powers and Privileges Committee is understood to order a month’s suspension of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs without any pay.

This is the harshest sentence that the committee can mete out to an MP found guilty of misconduct in Parliament.

While the powers and privileges committee, which deals with MPs’ disciplinary matters, continues its works in the absence of the charged EFF members, word in the corridors is that the harshest penalties in Parliament await the 20 EFF MPs, who heckled President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly in August demanding that he “pay back the money”.

Early this week, the EFF sought to renounce the disciplinary process saying it was unfair and the outcomes would be biased against its MPs. It based these claims on the numerous calls made by senior ANC leaders for Parliament to mete out the harshest penalties against the EFF. 

Malema, alongside 18 EFF MPs walked out of the hearing on its first day on Tuesday saying that whatever the outcome of this disciplinary process would be, his party would not be participating.

Naïvety
The Mail & Guardian spoke to two ANC MPs who sit in the Powers and Privileges Committee and who spoke on the condition that they will not be named. Both MPs said the EFF’s walk-out from the process showed naïvety from the mostly-youthful party and that it might work against the accused MPs. 

One MP said the EFF was naïve to leave the process after its MPs had already helped the committee to be properly convened, admitted to receiving and understanding the charges. “It means we can continue with our work, with or without their input from here onwards. Malema has not argued his case, he chose to walk away.” The MPs who spoke to the M&G separately claimed that there was no instruction from the ANC leadership for them to find EFF MPs guilty or to suspend them from Parliament. 

“In fact, as this committee, we had decided that we will not be like the Nkandla committee.
Our role is to listen to what the accused has got to say, accommodate them because this process may determine whether they will be able to put food on the table for their children,” said one MP.

The MP said even if there was an instruction from the ANC’s headquarters; the committee has to thread carefully because “those boys have said they are going to appeal, so we are going to be very careful”.

Charges cannot be withdrawn
Malema’s presentation was thrown out by the committee with its chairperson, Lemias Mashile stating that it could not be considered as evidence, but that the issues raised in the statement could or could have been raised as evidence by the charged members at the appropriate time during the proceedings.  

The committee also resolved that it cannot withdraw the charges against EFF MPs as demanded by Malema in his statement. Mashile said there was no provision in the law and in the rules to allow withdrawal of charges against members, and therefore the committee could not concede to the withdrawal of charges against the affected members. “It does not have the powers to do so.” 

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