Mbete refuses Malema early Parliamentary sitting

By Drum Digital
13 January 2015

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has turned down EFF leader Julius Malema’s request to have a sitting of Parliament before February 12 so that President Jacob Zuma can answer questions.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has turned down EFF leader Julius Malema’s request to have a sitting of Parliament before February 12, so that President Jacob Zuma can answer questions.

Zuma is due to deliver his annual state-of-the-nation-address (Sona) on the 12th of February in a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, where he’ll unveil the government’s plans for the year ahead. Malema has threatened to disrupt this year’s Sona by interrogating the President, presumably about the repayment of the Nkandla money,  if Mbete does not call for the sitting of the house before the address.

Zuma has avoided the National Assembly since the EFF disruption of his answer session last August.

In a letter to Malema, released this afternoon, Mbete said Zuma was prevented from answering questions, and that Parliament was working on a date for Zuma to answer questions. She said Malema’s reported statement that he would insist thepresident respond to his questions during Sona “constitutes intimidation” in terms of Parliamentary rules.

“I would urge you to desist from such conduct and instead engage constructively in processing matters relating to the functioning of the assembly,” she said.

Mbete added that Sona was also not the right forum for Zuma to answer National Assembly questions.

“You are also specifically reminded that this is a joint sitting (of the two houses), and not a sitting of the National Assembly,” she said.

The EFF disrupted Zuma’s replies in August chanting “pay back the money”, after he refused to say whether or not he would refund the state a portion of the R246 million the government spent on KwaDakwadunuse - his private residence in Nkandla, rural KwaZulu-Natal. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela earlier found that the president was liable for some of the costs.

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