Former apartheid detainees condemn EFF attack on Gordhan in Parliament

A group claiming to be former members of the United Democratic Front, South African Youth Congress, and Congress of the Students has come out in support of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan after he was attacked by EFF members in Parliament on Thursday.

"Association of the Political Detainees (APD) condemns the attack on one of us, our fellow ex-detainee Comrade Pravin Gordhan by the EFF in Parliament on Thursday," APD chairperson Ncane Ntuli said in a statement on Friday.

"The scenes we have witnessed in Parliament yesterday as instigated by the EFF does not amount to freedom of speech and tolerance, as Comrade Gordhan was threatened and temporarily prevented from making his speech." 

This comes after Gordhan faced off with EFF members who stormed the floor in a public enterprises committee meeting, in an apparent bid to prevent the minister from delivering his budget vote, News24 earlier reported.

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The APD said its support of Gordhan was in no way a means to seek "political favours or personal rewards".

"Our place in the sun cannot be mistaken for mischief or ill discipline, we seek no political favours or personal rewards.

"We refer to the constant harassment, discrediting, intimidation, use of abusive language and racist sentiment that Comrade Gordhan has endured in the past months including his family members," Ntuli added.

The APD cautioned that intolerance among political organisations could fuel "black-on-black violence as was experienced from 1979-1990".

"Our scars bear memories of the battle we fought, loved ones we buried as our youth life sacrificed (sic) for the liberation of our country and conviction to the Freedom Charter.

"We rely on the country's courts, Parliament and relevant judiciary authorities to be allowed to work and bring all those who are in violation of the Constitution to book," Ntuli said.

"APD concludes by saying 'hands off Pravin Gordhan' in order to allow him to do his work." 

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) also issued a statement on Friday saying it is alarmed by the disruptive tactics employed by EFF MPs.

"Such behaviour has no place in a democratic society, and must be condemned in the strongest terms. That it is a repetition of previous unruly, disruptive and violent conduct by members of the EFF in the precincts of Parliament, suggests that the behaviour is systemic and planned to undermine Parliament as a body which represents the people of South Africa," Casac said. 

The body called on the speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to ensure that action is taken and that disciplinary measures are enforced as a matter of urgency.

"We have seen how various institutions of governance and organs of state have been weakened and captured in recent times to facilitate the destabilisation of our constitutional order. Casac and other players in civil society stood up against these efforts, and we must continue to do so," it said. 

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