EFF challenges 2014 'pay back the money' suspensions

2017-10-31 18:45
EFF MPs. (File, Paul Herman, News24)

EFF MPs. (File, Paul Herman, News24)

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EFF on Parliament's 'failure to hold the executive to account'

2017-09-05 14:40

EFF Secretary General Godrich Gardee speaks to journalists outside the Constitutional Court, where the party is busy with its bid to have impeachment proceedings instituted against President Jacob Zuma. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - Just when everybody thought that the “Pay Back the Money” saga had died down, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) went to the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday to challenge a 2014 incident which saw them suspended after chaos in the National Assembly.

It was the EFF’s first year in Parliament in August 2014, when MPs repeatedly chanted “pay back the money” at President Jacob Zuma.

They were referring to a recommendation that former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, made in her report that Zuma pay back a reasonable portion of the more than R200m spent at Nkandla that was not related to security.

These included a swimming pool, initially passed off as a firepool, and a cattle kraal and chicken run.

READ HERE: Zuma paid for Nkandla with second home loan

Proceedings in Parliament ground to a halt as a result of the chaos.

Twenty MPs were suspended, for varying lengths of time, and a portion of their salaries was docked.

In an application to the High Court on December 14, 2014, the party secured urgent interim relief to interdict the Speaker of the National Assembly, or anybody acting under authority to apply a decision taken by the National Assembly on November 27, 2014, from imposing the suspension without pay on them.

Judge Dennis Davis granted the interim order, pending the determination of a second leg of the party's application that relates to fairness and procedures followed when it was decided to suspend them and dock their pay.

Although Zuma has paid off the money via a bank loan since then, the EFF did not take the manner in which they were treated lightly and proceeded with the second leg of the application in court on Tuesday.

Declaratory order

It is seeking an order declaring that the decision taken by the National Assembly on November 27, 2014, to adopt a report recommending the suspension of the EFF MPs without pay, is constitutionally invalid and unlawful.

It wants the proceedings, in which the 20 MPs were found guilty of misconduct, reviewed and set aside and also wants the court to review and set aside the committee’s report.

In addition, it wants the court to declare that the National Assembly failed to carry out or fulfil its obligations in accordance with the provisions of Section 55(2) of the Constitution to ensure that all executive organs of state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it.

The EFF has accused the National Assembly of failing to maintain oversight of the exercise of National Executive Authority, saying that it failed to ensure that Zuma explained what steps he would take to comply with the Public Protector's findings.

The EFF further wants a declaratory order that the Speaker failed to ensure that the National Assembly complies with its obligations and exercises its powers in accordance with Section 55(2) of the Constitution to ensure that the president, as head of the National Executive, is held accountable to it in relation to giving effect to the findings in the Public Protector's report.

It also wants a declaratory order that Baleka Mbete is not suitable to hold the position of Speaker of the National Assembly and that the National Assembly is directed to take steps to initiate proceedings for the removal of Mbete as Speaker.

Among the points raised to support its argument, was that the committee, which decided that they should be found guilty of misconduct, was not properly constituted, and that it was stacked against them.

They felt a retired judge would have been more neutral.

Some of the applicants in the EFF at the time have moved on, or married and changed their names.

In the court papers, they have been cited as The Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, Floyd Shivambu, Paul Ramakatsa, Godrich Gardee, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, Andile Mngxitama, Nthako Matiase, Hlengiwe Maxon, Elsabe Louw, Magdalene Moonsamy, Ngwanamakwetle Renioleo Mashabela, Asanda Matshobeni, Nokulunga Sonti, Makoti Khawula, Ntombovuyo Mente-Nqweniso, Pumza Ntobongwana, Kgotso Morapela, Daniel Joseph and Moses Mbatha.

The application lodged is against the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, Zuma, and Buoang Lemias Mashile, who had chaired the Powers and Privileges committee which dealt with the fallout from the incident.

Judgment was reserved.

Read more on:    eff  |  baleka mbete  |  thuli madonsela  |  jacob zuma  |  courts

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