Godrich Gardee preps EFF for 2016 elections

2014-12-28 17:00

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He is famous for raising numerous points of order during parliamentary plenary sessions and while he is not exactly articulate, his tenacity more than makes up for his lack of glib-tongued rhetoric.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Godrich Gardee’s stint in Parliament has come to an end just seven months after being sworn in as an MP. This follows his election as the EFF’s secretary general earlier this month.

The party’s constitution stipulates that the secretary general must be a full-time official based at the party’s headquarters in Joburg.

Gardee told City Press this week that he was definitely leaving Parliament and would be preparing the EFF for the local government elections in 2016.

“We are preparing for the 2016 elections, the ‘dry run’ for the 2019 general elections. We do not have time and have to take power quickly,” he said.

Gardee was one of the few EFF members who were starting to grasp parliamentary rules and procedures and has used that to his party’s advantage.

He was also one of the party’s six MPs found guilty of contempt of Parliament and suspended for 30 days without pay. Their suspension was temporarily reversed by the courts last week.

He feels strongly about the role his party has played in Parliament since it arrived on the political scene.

“We were very serious in Parliament. We brought quality to the debates. They thought they could ride roughshod over us with the rules because they thought we didn’t, or couldn’t, read them in context,” he said.

Gardee said he was merely performing his duties as one of the EFF’s whips when he rose constantly in the House on a point of order.

“It is part of my job description as a whip to be on guard. I performed my whippery duties to the best of my ability.

“As a whip, you must read a lot and be observant. I was always observant. You would have complete chaos in Parliament if you didn’t have whips who performed their duties efficiently.”

Gardee (46) sees Parliament as “another theatre of the struggle”.

“We never lied to our people and said that we were going to Parliament to be conformists. Our voters are not surprised by our conduct in the House,” he said.

“We told voters during the elections campaign that we were going to Parliament and would raise the issues that were on our elections manifesto when we were inside Parliament. We have raised those issues.”

These included calling for a minimum wage for certain sectors, speaking out on corruption, and pursuing the Nkandla matter and issues around the remuneration and working conditions of mineworkers.

Gardee is not new to a legislature. He worked as the chief financial officer of the Mpumalanga legislature between 2002 and 2005.

He laughs off the much-publicised verbal altercation with Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who had to be restrained by fellow MPs as she stormed through the corridors, furiously demanding that the matter be taken outside.

But he and Zulu have a history.

Gardee, a former ANC member, spoke of how he appeared before a ruling party committee on disputes before the national conference in Mangaung in 2012 to present a dispute on behalf of his branch about the processes towards that conference.

“She and [ANC NEC member] Bathabile Dlamini, who were presiding over that committee, dismissed our dispute. I responded: ‘Is this how you operate? You will regret it one day.’”

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