Standoff between EFF and rest of political parties over proposed new rules continues

2015-06-24 18:11
EFF MP's shout "pay back the money" in the National Assembly. Picture: Lerato Maduna

EFF MP's shout "pay back the money" in the National Assembly. Picture: Lerato Maduna

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Cape Town - The standoff between the EFF and other political parties came to a head in parliament on Wednesday over proposed amendments to the rules aimed to deal with disruptive MPs.

The EFF remained against the proposed amendments while other opposition parties and the ANC insisted that the amendments are needed to maintain order during plenaries of the National Assembly.

ANC MP Richard Mdakane went as far as to say that those who did not agree with the proposed changes, “can take us to court”.

The proposals were that unruly MPs would be asked to leave the house. Should they resist, they would be removed by the serjeant-at-arms and parliament’s protection services and will be automatically suspended for a set period.

The DA, ANC, IFP and FF Plus also supported a proposal that such suspension must be without pay.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi warned that they would not allow the ruling party to use the rules to protect the president.

“We will not allow any other arm  of government to undermine us – even if you decide to allow guns in the House [NA].”

A question-and-answer session for pres. Jacob Zuma was disrupted last week when EFF MPs started chanting “pay back the money” before the president could speak. Proceedings in the NA were then suspended.

Mdakane said it was this type of behaviour that the proposed amendments aim to address.

He added that it wasn’t about punishing one party but about ensuring the dignity of parliament.

But Ndlozi disagreed and said that targeting the EFF would not solve the problem.

“You cannot solve a political problem with rules,” he said, referring to the alleged bias of the speaker and other presiding officers, all of whom are members of the ANC.

“As long as the speaker is a member of the ruling party, she cannot just arbitrarily order the removal of MPs. Due process must be followed.”

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu added: “If you think you are going to prevent the EFF from demanding that the [Nkandla] money be paid back, you are wasting your time.”

Fellow EFF MP Hlengiwe Maxon, complained that the EFF members were being treated like “stepchildren”.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen later commented that he wasn’t sure if they were still in a parliamentary committee or part of the Cape Drama Society.

He described the level of debate in parliament as “a race to the bottom”, with MPs who “want to outshout each other”.

FF Plus chief whip Dr Corné Mulder warned that democratic processes cannot be used to destroy democracy.

“Parliament is not just about the ANC and the EFF; there are also other parties.”

After parliament’s recess, the rules subcommittee has to submit a final report to the rules committee.

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