/ 29 July 2021

DA chief whip Mazzone’s complaint against EFF’s Paulsen to be further investigated

Parliament Votes In Favour Of Inquiry Into Public Protector Removal
Natasha Mazzone, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance (DA) addresses the National Assembly during the debate on whether to accept the recommendation of the high level panel appointed by the Speaker to initiate an inquiry by parliament to determine the fitness of the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to hold office on March 16, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. It is reported that Parliament voted in support of a motion on an inquiry to decide on the removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Photo by Jeffrey Abrahams/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

A disciplinary hearing at a future date will seek further evidence in the complaint of alleged contempt of parliament lodged by Democratic Alliance chief whip Natasha Mazzone against opposition Economic Freedom Fighters legislator Nazier Paulsen

Parliament’s powers and privileges committee concluded on Thursday that it would  conduct a formal hearing into the complaint, which Mazzone brought on 4 March, alleging that Paulsen made utterances and threats against her, as well as former DA MP Phumzile van Damme and current MP Kevin Mileham, on 2 March in the National Assembly.

This is a breach of sections 7(d) and (e) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act and, ultimately, amounts to conduct constituting contempt of parliament, Mazzone argued.

The committee obtained legal advice on the issue, and parliamentary legal adviser Thiloshini Gangen told it that there was prima facie evidence to sustain a charge of “threatened assault” targeting Mileham and Van Damme, and “possibly” Mazzone. 

“Counsel was of the further view that in light of the seriousness of the charge of contempt of parliament, the matter warrants a disciplinary hearing to be convened,” Gangen said. 

DA MP Haniff Hoosen submitted an additional separate inquiry into another matter against Paulsen relating to an incident that occurred on the same day of the altercation between Paulsen and Van Damme. 

According to Hoosen: “The deputy speaker [Lechesa Tsenoli] at the time, commented [on the incident] and said, ‘this is what happens when irrationality prevails over the house,’ to which [Paulsen] responded, ‘this is what happens when old people are sitting in the chair.’”

Committee chairperson Mohlopi Philemon Mapulane and the majority of its members accepted that the additional inquiry be investigated further. 

However, the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi argued that the committee had a “political responsibility” to discard the matter. He said Paulsen had already served his punishment by being kicked out of the Assembly. “He has already been punished: drop the matter,” Ndlozi urged.

Both Paulsen and Van Damme were asked to leave the National Assembly after the 2 March altercation. 

Ndlozi was ejected from Thursday’s committee meeting over his frequent interjections. Mapulane said a date for a formal disciplinary hearing would be announced.