Malema rejects report, calls Zuma a criminal

2014-11-27 19:51
(Times LIVE via Twitter)

(Times LIVE via Twitter)

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Cape Town - Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema defiantly called President Jacob Zuma a criminal on Thursday in the rowdy parliamentary debate on a report demanding the suspension of EFF MPs from the legislature.

"The EFF will do everything in its power to undermine these mafias on that side... and the man himself, the criminal Jacob Zuma," Malema said to loud applause from fellow EFF MPs, and supporters in the public gallery.

Malema said he had no hope of persuading members of the ANC not to support a report sure to result in the suspension of himself and at least 11 other party members from Parliament.

"Those who come from the ruling party have been given an instruction not to think but to use their numbers to vote," he said.

Nor did EFF MPs fear losing their salaries for the suspension period, Malema said, because if striking mineworkers at Marikana could survive without pay so could they.

"We have made peace with those outcomes long before they were announced here because they were predetermined."

He said the ANC was confronted with "a very strong opposition of your own making", because it had expelled him, and was creating a dictator in the president.

"You are creating a dictator and that dictator will one day turn against some of you who are in the forefront."

The EFF turned up the temperature in the chamber the moment the debate began, with Malema and Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu rushing to the podium to shout interjections as the ANC's Lemias Mashile, who chaired the committee, made his speech.

Mashile said the committee had agreed not to call Speaker Baleka Mbete and MPs as witnesses but they pointed out that this was not true as opposition parties had insisted in vain they should testify.

Malema said Mashile was lying when he said the committee agreed not to "call Baleka" and other witnesses.

When Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli urged him to respect the rules by prefacing any direct reference to Mbete and Mashile as "honourable" as customary, he snapped: "There is nothing honourable about Mashile."

As EFF MPs rose and spoke at once, Tsenoli at one point resorted to switching off their microphones, prompting another storm of protest.

"Cutting off microphones is not one of the things you should do," Shivambu snapped.

Tsenoli said he would do so again if the EFF continued to break the rules of Parliament by interjecting without being recognised.

"This is completely unacceptable, you are disrupting the proceedings of the house," he added.

At this, both Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Sipho Mbatha began arguing that the deputy speaker had misread the rules, as there was no rule requiring MPs to raise their hands before they could be recognised to speak in the chamber.

"We feel undermined," Ndlozi complained.

The charges against the EFF stemmed from their heckling of President Jacob Zuma on August 21 over the cost of the security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

Vindictive

Most opposition speakers firmly rejected the report and accused the ANC of being vindictive.

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said it was wrong to punish only the left-wing party when all members were involved in the chaos that erupted in August, prompting Mbete to adjourn the sitting.

It meant that Zuma did not conclude answering questions from MPs.

Opposition parties have made the fact that he has failed to return to do so, and notably to explain the Nkandla controversy, a battle cry that has brought Parliament to the brink in recent weeks and saw riot police sent into the chamber a fortnight ago to remove an EFF MP.

Agang's Andries Tlouamma said his party too rejected the report, and believed South Africans were the losers in a fight between the ANC and the EFF.

"We want to tell you this is a test to our democracy... The ANC is the parent of this. We other parties have been reduced to spectators of a fight between a parent and a child."

The African Christian Democratic Party said it believed the EFF's punishment should have been to be suspended with a warning.

The Democratic Alliance's Mike Waters said two members of the ANC who sat on the committee had on 21 August warned the EFF contingent "we will get you", and this amounted to "essential bias".

"This little committee's investigation was little more than a kangaroo court," he said.

The debate took place amid a strong police presence at Parliament. In the morning, Mbete had sent a letter to parties' chief whips saying she had learnt with concern that the EFF had threatened that there would be "blood on the floor" and reminding them of the terms of the provisions of Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislation Act.

It allows the presiding officer to call in the police if lives are in danger.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  baleka mbete  |  julius malema  |  cape town  |  parliament 2014

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