EFF says Parliament must be transformed

The EFF MPs vigorously heckled Jacob Zuma in Parliament to demand that he pay back the money spent by the state to upgrade security at his private homestead in Nkandla. (David Harrison)

The EFF MPs vigorously heckled Jacob Zuma in Parliament to demand that he pay back the money spent by the state to upgrade security at his private homestead in Nkandla. (David Harrison)

On August 21, Economic Freedom Fighters MPs vigorously heckled President Jacob Zuma in Parliament to demand that he pay back the money spent by the state to upgrade security at his private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

This week, EFF MPs walked out of a disciplinary hearing held by Parliament’s powers and privileges committee to determine whether their actions in August amounted to contempt of the institution.

This week, the EFF’s national spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, denied that the party walks out of national or provincial legislatures when it cannot have its way.

The Mail & Guardian spoke to him.

How does walking out of a parliamentary process serve you or the people who voted for the EFF?

You must sympathise here. If the mandate of a committee is to consider the president’s report, and his response to the institution of the public protector is that her ­decisions are not binding and the committee decides that he is right, what are we still going to do there?

How does the EFF propose that Parliament deal with your party’s alleged misconduct?

If there is alleged misconduct, get a fair judge.
At university I was charged for misconduct and I appeared in front of a person who was not from the university. It was done so that the university gains my confidence that I am presenting my case in front of a neutral, impartial person and that I will have a fair trial from a person who does not need to impress the vice-chancellor.

That’s what institutions that respect the principles of fair justice do. In this case [the parliamentary committee], these people have a political objective to deal with us.

Parliament’s powers and privileges committee was established to deal with those issues.

It can’t be an argument that just because something has been there before that it must apply. We are checking the constitutionality of the practices of Parliament, which in our view remain untransformed and in direct violation of basic rights.

Are you not going to abide by the rules that you do not agree with?

We will never recognise unjust laws; it will never happen.

What are you doing in Parliament then if you are not going to abide by its rules? How are you going to effect change if you are not in Parliament?

If you hold on to that interpretation you are missing the opportunity of understanding our strategy in Parliament. We cannot sit there and undermine our own rights. We are not giving up on Parliament, but we are there to transform it. We can’t sit there and become part of undermining the South African Constitution. They must take those decisions. We will meet in court and the court will correct it.

So, when you disagree, you walk out instead of raising the issues from inside and exposing the unconstitutionality you talk about?

That is not true; you are buying into the ANC’s propaganda. That is reading events in a superficial form. If the ANC decides that President Zuma is not going to appear before the Nkandla committee, what is the point of us sitting in that committee? Walking out is a contestation of a decision that says that, whatever you decide, it is not going to be binding.

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