Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has vowed to see President Jacob Zuma answer in court for the security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
When it was clear that he was not going to get the answer he was looking for from the president after much heckling, shouting and interruption of speakers, Malema’s parting shot to Zuma during his question and answer session on Thursday was: “See you in court.”
While EFF MPs insisted the president provide an adequate answer for when he would pay back a portion of the money spent on his Nkandla homestead, complete with a time and method of payment, Zuma said the question was premature.
Zuma said Parliament was discussing the matter relating to the security upgrades at Nkandla through the ad hoc committee on the police minister’s report.
“I have also responded to Parliament on this matter before. I submitted a report to the speaker in August last year. I believe the question is premature as matters have not yet been concluded by this very House. I will respond further to the debate around this matter once all processes have been concluded,” he said.
Asked what he was doing to expedite the process and provide leadership, Zuma said he did not have the authority to interfere with the process.
“As far as I know, there is a parliamentary process that is ongoing. There is a process rising out of an investigation that was done on people who overcharged and I’m sure during the cases it will come to light if there were people who ate money. There are processes that I cannot interfere in, even if I am the president. I can’t interfere with court proceedings or parliamentary processes. You know, if I said anything before these processes are over I would be doing the wrong thing. The normal thing is to allow these processes to come to their conclusion and we react to final outcomes.”
Unhappy with the answer, various EFF MPs stood up one by one, shouting and asking when the president would pay back the money. For more than 20 minutes, the MPs refused to let the speaker allow anyone else to speak until they had received an answer with which they were satisfied.
“It’s very clear we will never get an answer. Mr President, let’s meet in court,” Malema said.
This was the first session since the implementation of the new rules of Parliament, which allow for disruptive MPs to be physically removed from the House. In preparation for the session, Parliament employed former police officers to join Protection Services and they stood at the ready, waiting to be called in if necessary.
But the speaker did not engage their services, which led to Malema thanking her for “being nice” by not calling in the “bouncers waiting outside” when they were shouting and not waiting to be recognised before speaking.
Earlier in the session, tempers flared as battle lines were drawn between the EFF and Democratic Alliance opposition parties. The EFF lambasted the DA for voting for the employment of the Parliament Protection Services officers and said they were now stuck with permanent rules that could not be changed.
The EFF’s Natasha Louw clashed with Freedom Front Plus’s Pieter Groenewald, interrupting proceedings to report his behaviour.
“I will not tolerate that a white man is speaking to me like that … I will not be spoken to like that. How dare he? He’s swearing here, if he wants to be ‘moered’ then let’s go outside and ‘moer’ each other.”
The president faced six questions from the ANC and the DA, and the one from the EFF.
On the issue of separation of powers, the DA’s Mmusi Maimane asked the president why he had let Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir leave the country when he had promised to respect and uphold international law during a sitting of Parliament in 2010. He again maintained that al-Bashir had been invited by the African Union and not South Africa and therefore they could not arrest him.
During the supplementary questions, the president was asked about the mining minister’s decision to suspend operations at the Glencore mine owing to looming job losses and he said he has not been briefed about it as yet and therefore could not answer. “I cannot be a sangoma”.
He faced questions on African solutions for African problems, as well as on progress made by Brics partners and other countries with regard to industrial co-operation and investment.