EFF threatens court action if MPs suspended

The disciplinary process arose from the EFF's disruption of the National Assembly during President Jacob Zuma's question time on August 21. (David Harrison, M&G)

The disciplinary process arose from the EFF's disruption of the National Assembly during President Jacob Zuma's question time on August 21. (David Harrison, M&G)

The EFF has threatened court action should the National Assembly approve a recommendation by Parliament’s powers and privileges committee to suspend 12 of its parliamentarians without pay.

“We are not shocked, they reached the conclusion that they have because, as we said, there was a clear mandate from Luthuli House [ANC headquarters] that the EFF must be dealt with in the harshest possible terms,” Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Friday.

“We will meet them in the National Assembly when they make those recommendations and object to it, failing which we’ll approach a court,” he said.

The committee will adopt its final report on Monday and submit it to the National Assembly for approval.

The committee recommended earlier on Friday that Ndlozi, EFF leader Julius Malema, chief whip Floyd Shivambu, Mpho Ramakatsa, Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala and Godrich Gardee be suspended for 30 days without pay.

Malema was found guilty on four charges of contempt of Parliament.

Shivambu and Ramakatsa were convicted on seven charges each.

Contempt of Parliament
The second group of parliamentarians, consisting of Elsabe Louw, Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela, Nthako Matiase, Hlengiwe Maxon, Magdalene Moonsamy and Andile Mngxitama, who were found guilty on two charges each of contempt of Parliament, also face suspension without pay, but for a shorter period.

“The committee resolved to recommend that they be suspended for 14 days without remuneration,” said committee chairperson Lemias Mashile.

Another eight EFF MPs, who were only found guilty of one charge each, could get off with lighter penalties.

“The committee resolved to recommend that these members should apologise to Parliament verbally in the manner determined by the House,” Mashile said.

The disciplinary process arose from the EFF’s disruption of the National Assembly during President Jacob Zuma’s question time on August 21.

They were unhappy with Zuma’s replies to questions about his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, where R246-million of taxpayers’ money had been spent on upgrades and chanted “pay back the money” at him.

The recommendations were pushed through by the ANC majority on the committee, following objections from opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance.

“We would have liked to see, under the circumstances, a reprimand because some of the [EFF] members did not obey the Speaker when, for example, she asked them to sit down. We can’t contest that,” said Democratic Alliance parliamentarian Annelie Lotriet.

“Given the circumstances and factors that led up to the whole debacle on the day, I think a reprimand should have sufficed,” Lotriet said.

Boycotting the process
The minority views will be included in the committee’s final report.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Mashile said he thought the process was fair.

“All the people that were supposed to be here have been given the opportunity to be here. Those that were not here, they were not chased [away] by anybody,” he said.

“It is a fair process because an opportunity for people to make their inputs and views was there without any hindrance.” The EFF parliamentarians decided to boycott the process from the start and did not make any representations in their defence.

The ANC chief whip’s office rejected the EFF’s claim that the committee was a one-party affair.

“There was full participation of all parties represented in the committee throughout the hearing, including agreement on some of the sanctions,” spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.
The party was confident the punishment to be decided next week would help restore the integrity and decorum of Parliament and guard against anarchy. – Sapa

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