The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were kicked out of the portfolio committee on public enterprises on Thursday, after approaching Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan — who was at the podium to deliver his budget vote — in a threatening manner.
Three EFF members of Parliament rose on a point of order adamant that Gordhan should not be allowed to address the meeting. EFF MP Sam Matiase and other party MPs then approached the podium in a manner suggesting a physical threat to Gordhan. He could be heard saying, “Don’t point fingers… they must touch me” as MPs from ANC and opposition benches rose to approach the podium in Gordhan’s defence.
The EFF has described Gordhan as a “constitutional delinquent” due to his handling of the reports by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane which found against him. However, earlier on Thursday, Gordhan told media at a briefing that he was perfectly within his legal rights to challenge Mkhwebane’s report in court. He lodged a stinging rebuttal in the high court on Wednesday in which he accused Mkhwebane of having an ulterior motive and the EFF of stoking the matter.
The EFF are employing the same strategy they used when dealing with former president Jacob Zuma, but the circumstances are decidedly different.
Zuma — who was raked over the coals for his handling of then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla report — didn’t take it on review. He simply relied on his political weight in Parliament to exonerate him from paying back state funds used to upgrade his private residence at Nkandla.
The EFF took him to court over this and the Constitutional Court confirmed the powers of the Public Protector and ordered Zuma to pay back the money after a last minute concession by his legal team, two years after Madonsela released her report.
On Wednesday, Gordhan submitted his court papers in the review matter on Wednesday, arguing that Mkhwebane’s report was “malevolent”, “politically motivated” and flawed in fact and law.
After the incident, the minister said: “We are fighting to undo state capture and what you just witnessed was a defence of state capture through intimidation.”
Read Gordhan’s budget speech below: