EFF 'deliberately' disregarded National Assembly rules
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and 19 of his MPs deliberately disregarded the National Assembly’s rules when they disrupted proceedings on August 21, Parliament’s Powers and Privileges Committee heard on Tuesday.
“There can be little doubt ... that the affected honourable members ... knew what they were required to do and deliberately and intentionally refused to comply with the speaker’s instructions,” the initiator in the disciplinary process against the 20 MPs, Randall van Voore, said during closing arguments.
Van Voore told the committee the evidence before the committee, which includes testimony of various people present during the August 21 sitting, and video footage of the day’s events, proves the EFF MPs are guilty of misconduct.
“The evidence that serves before the committee does establish that the affected members acted in contravention of 13(c) of the [Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures] Act ...
and the rules [of Parliament],” said Van Voore.
The section states that MPs are guilty of contempt of Parliament if they wilfully refuse to obey any rules, order, or resolution of the House.
On August 21, EFF MPs refused to take their seats when instructed to do so by National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete. They also refused to leave the House when Mbete ordered them out.
They were being censured for disrupting the National Assembly during the quarterly question and answer session with President Jacob Zuma.
Malema and 19 fellow EFF MPs chanted “Pay back the money!” at Zuma, referring to the R246-million spent on so-called security upgrades to his Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal home. Public protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended in her report on Nkandla that Zuma repay that part of the money spent on amenities like a cattle kraal, amphitheatre, and swimming pool.
Earlier on Tuesday, two EFF MPs walked out on the committee after objecting to the process unfolding in the disciplinary hearing.
Before closing arguments could be heard, EFF MP Diliza Twala told the committee he was not comfortable proceeding without the evidence of key witnesses.
Twala wanted two ministers, who had been unavailable, to testify in the hearing before closing arguments could be heard.
“How do you then arrive at a conclusion?” he asked when committee chairman Lemias Mashile told him a report outlining when the ministers would be available would be given to MPs at a later stage.
Twala and his EFF colleague Abner Mathloko would not accept this, accusing the committee of engaging in an unfair process, and left.
The two ministers are State Security Minister David Mahlobo and Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
The two had tried to negotiate with Malema, to no avail, on August 21. – Sapa