EFF disciplinary hearing 'not about personal feelings'

2014-10-09 20:10

MPs sitting on Parliament's powers and privileges committee have been warned to keep their personal feelings out of the disciplinary process against 20 EFF politicians.

While questioning a witness, ANC MP Mnyamezeli Booi, had tried to make a statement about the conduct of the Economic Freedom Fighters MPs.

"When you hear utterances that says you would never leave here today until you answer that question, is that about the rules or what is it about?" asked Booi.

Booi was referring to the August 21 incident in which the EFF disrupted proceedings while President Jacob Zuma was answering questions.

Booi went on to express his opinions about the conduct of EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was answering questions in the House.

"The worst example that I've never seen in my whole life ... is what the deputy president of the country suffered when the gesture of the [middle] finger was made by a member of Parliament to him."

IFP MP Mangaqa Mncwango interjected, saying he was "not comfortable with the statement that I was hearing".

"We can't be actually expressing our personal feelings about what actually happened and what did not happen. Otherwise we are messing this process up," said Mncwango.

"I feel that the honourable member [Booi] should actually hold his horses on that one because we are not concluding yet, we are merely asking questions of clarity and the process in my view is still ongoing."

Committee chairpersons Lemas Mashile agreed.

"I think that point of order is sustained. Let's reserve some of the things to when we get to the deliberations and today let's just examine the evidence as led in front of us," Mashile said.

Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, concluded his evidence this evening, having spent two days testifying on Parliamentary processes and having to recall the events of August 21, while repeatedly being shown video clips of the events unfolding.

Xaso was given a pointer and asked to identify each EFF politician by name from the footage, which was shown on a projector.

"The member I am pointing at now would be the honourable [Makoti] Khawula. Then honourable [Julius] Malema, honourable Shivambu..." Xaso told the committee.

He went on to identify each of the other 17 MPs who were seen chanting and singing in the House after National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete suspended proceedings due to the EFF refusing to obey her instruction to leave the House.

Mbete had tried to boot out the EFF MPs after they started chanting "Pay back the money" at Zuma.

They were referring to the R246 million in state funds spent on his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, a portion of which Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended he repay.

The disciplinary process is continuing in the absence of the 20 MPs, who face contempt of Parliament charges.

The accused MPs withdrew from the process on Tuesday, following a statement made by Malema.

In his statement, Malema attacked the legitimacy of the committee and asked instead that Mbete be charged for disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

The committee said it could not heed the request for the charges to be withdrawn as legally it did not have the power to do so.

Only the Speaker had the authority to withdraw charges against MPs.

Malema and the 19 EFF MPs risk being suspended from Parliament for up to 14 working days if found guilty.

The committee will meet again on October 15 when initiator Randal van Voore will present arguments to the MPs.

Mashile made it clear he also expected a doctor's certificate from EFF MP Magdalene Moonsamy after she failed to appear before the committee on Tuesday without submitting a letter of apology..

Malema assured the committee she was ill and would provide proof of her illness.

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