Zuma is a coward - opposition

Johannesburg – Opposition parties have labelled President Jacob Zuma a coward, after the ANC confirmed that he would avoid taking questions in Parliament until Julius Malema and his EFF MPs have calmed down, according to the Sunday Times.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told the weekly newspaper that Parliament was a circus, and until it sorted itself out, the President could not attend.

The president had to answer questions from opposition parties in Parliament four times a year, this according to the rules of the Assembly.

On 21 August the House was disrupted during Zuma’s appearance in Parliament, when opposition MPs were seen chanting and singing in the National Assembly after Speaker Baleka Mbete suspended proceedings due to the EFF refusing to obey her instruction to "leave the House".

Mbete had tried to boot out the EFF MPs after they disrupted Zuma’s question time by chanting "pay back the money" at him.

They were referring to the R246m in state funds spent on his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, a portion of which Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended he repay.

Instead of attending Parliament the ANC told the Sunday Times that they would host more izimbizo, which they say would bring him closer to the people.

However, president spokesperson Mac Maharaj denied that Zuma was avoiding Parliament, but said that with the elections being held this year it was difficult for Zuma to attend the Assembly.

In reaction to this announcement the DA and EFF have labelled Zuma a coward.

Opposition parties reportedly said the izimbizos were just ANC staged events, where people were bused in and fed to listen to the president.

Malema said this decision by the ANC was proof that Zuma was scared of him.

The EFF leader and 19 of his MPs are accused of causing the disruption on 21 August in Parliament are undergoing a disciplinary process by the powers and privileges committee.

On Thursday it was reported that the ministers of telecommunications and state security would be added to the witness list in the disciplinary process.

The additional witnesses were agreed to after the EFF, the DA, the UDM and the IFP objected to not being able to call witnesses.

"The debate was not about the right to call witnesses but about the impact on the integrity and fairness when members who are supposed to rule on the charges get involved in calling witnesses," committee chairperson Lemias Mashile said in a statement.

"After much deliberation on the impact, relevance and gaps that needed to be filled in the evidence led, the committee agreed to call the following persons..."

The additional witnesses are Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Deputy ANC chief whip Doris Dlakude, DA deputy chief whip John Steenhuisen, National Assembly sergeant-at-arms Regina Mohlomi, and an ICT section manager.

Malema and his fellow MPs face contempt of Parliament charges.

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said Zuma was a coward and was undermining the oath taken when swearing-in as president.

DA wants Zuma to appear

The DA has also accused the ANC of double standards in Parliament and said in a press release that they are setting Parliament up to fail at equality of accountability.

“This comes as the ANC on the powers and privileges committee prosecuting the EFF for disrupting questions to the president, has acceded to a request by opposition parties to call witnesses to appear before it.”

The opposition party said yet the Nkandla Ad Hoc Committee was blocked from the same outcome of calling witnesses, by the ANC.

“The DA, supported by other opposition parties, called for Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, President Jacob Zuma and other relevant witnesses to appear before the Nkandla Ad Hoc Committee.”

They said the ANC are using the process of accountability as a political tool against those who disagree with them, rather than using it as a remedial mechanism.

“This is a clear case of double standards, where the process of accountability applies to some but President Jacob Zuma, who is at the centre of the R246m Nkandla scandal.”

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