Parly to set up committee to probe EFF conduct
Cape Town - Parliament is set to establish a committee to probe the conduct of the Economic Freedom Fighters and a possible censure for the party's members who disrupted proceedings in the National Assembly on Thursday.
The announcement came from National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on Thursday evening after she had to adjourn the House following a stand-off between her and EFF members.
"The feeling among members of Parliament from across the board since the beginning of the fifth Parliament is that there has come into the House... a group of people who have no respect for Parliament as an institution of the people of South Africa who elect representatives that come and play a role in the House," Mbete said.
"They [EFF] have definitely shown no regard for the conventions of Parliament..."
President Jacob Zuma was unable to finish his oral replies to questions in the National Assembly as a result of the EFF's refusal to leave the National Assembly.
Tensions rose after EFF leader Julius Malema objected to Zuma's reply to a question about when he was going to repay part of the money spent on the R246m security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbete had ordered them out earlier because they were "not serious" about proceedings.
'Pay back the money'
"I will throw you out of the House if you don't listen," Mbete shouted at EFF members, who responded by chanting "pay back the money".
Long after being ordered out they still sat in their benches chanting and singing.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended in her report on Nkandla, titled "Secure in Comfort", that Zuma repay part of the money.
Mbete adjourned Parliament for the day shortly after 16:00, announcing Zuma would not complete presidential question time because of the EFF's protest.
"The House has been joined by people who are reckless with the dignity of our people that elect Parliament and that's not something that's being appreciated by many of our people out there, by the parties in the House," Mbete later said.
"We can differ when we debate politically, but if there's one thing we all are agreed on as parties and members of Parliament is that we respect our Parliament because we respect our people and we therefore work with each other with respect."
On the question about what possible censure Malema and his fellow MPs could face, Mbete said she and her fellow presiding officers would be "applying our minds overnight".
"We are looking at the question of the powers and privileges committee of Parliament, which is a structure which is multi-party that will enable every party represented in this House to apply its mind on those issues so that we protect the dignity of Parliament."
Just minutes before Mbete addressed the media, Malema and the EFF leadership briefed journalists and defended their actions.
Freedom of speech 'a right'
"It happened precisely because we cannot allow business as usual where people come to Parliament and don't take responsibility," Malema said.
"The president uses Parliament to hide his shenanigans..."
Malema insisted that freedom of speech in Parliament was an absolute right.
"Protest is allowed. Freedom of expression is allowed.
"Zuma must bring the money," Malema said referring to the public protector's recommendation.
Commenting on a scuffle which broke out between EFF members and ANC Youth League national task team member, Braam Hanekom, Malema said: "How does a political party mobilise its members to fight their battles".