Tempers flare as EFF report tabled

2014-11-27 19:30

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Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli struggled to control the National Assembly today as soon as the debate on a report calling for the suspension of the Economic Freedom Fighters began.

Several EFF MPs rose to contest the speech of ANC MP Lemias Mashile introducing the debate on the report, eventually prompting Tsenoli to switch off the microphones at their benches.

EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu protested loudly, telling Tsenoli: “Cutting off microphones is not one of the things you should do.”

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 EFF was objecting to Mashile, who chaired the committee that found 20 EFF MPs guilty on contempt charges, saying that the committee had agreed not to call Speaker Baleka Mbete and MPs as witnesses.

They pointed out that this represented only the view of the ANC, because other parties on the powers and privileges committee had urged that they be called as witnesses.

EFF leader Julius Malema insisted that Mashile was out of order because he was reading the report recommending the suspension of EFF members, instead of debating as an ANC member.

“I don’t know why deputy speaker you are behaving in the way you are behaving because you know this guy is giving us a report,” he said.

He added that Mashile was lying when he said the committee agreed not to “call Baleka” and other witnesses.

When 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.”

Ndlozi added that if Mashile was speaking as the chairperson of the committee he had to give an accurate reflection of the views of the whole committee, otherwise he was misrepresenting the body.

But Tsenoli defended Mashile, and urged the EFF “to enter the debate differently than you are doing now”.

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

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