EFF disruption of Parly 'unprecedented'

2014-10-08 19:38
Screengrab of EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu raising his middle finger at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Screengrab of EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu raising his middle finger at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Parliament TV)

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Cape Town - The 21 August, disruption of National Assembly proceedings by 20 EFF MPs was unprecedented, a long-time parliamentary employee testified on Wednesday.

"I cannot recall... an incident of this nature that involves members during a sitting," secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, told Parliament's powers and privileges committee.

Xaso, who has been employed in Parliament in various capacities since May 1994, was the first witness to be called in the disciplinary process against EFF leader Julius Malema and 19 of his fellow MPs.

Xaso, however, did recall two incidents which constituted disorderly behaviour.

One was the September 1998 fist-fight between ANC MP Johnny de Lange and Manie Schoeman, who traded bare-knuckle blows just after former Speaker Frene Ginwala adjourned the House.

The other incident occurred "on 28 October 1997 where a group of young people staged a demonstration in the gallery of the House and the proceedings were suspended due to grave disorder".

Xaso identified several of the EFF MPs accused of contempt of Parliament from video footage played during Wednesday's proceedings.

Malema, EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu, Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, Paul Ramakatsa, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Godrich Gardee were clearly seen disregarding the instructions of Speaker Baleka Mbete who ordered them to leave the House.

Earlier on Wednesday, committee chairperson Lemias Mashile made it clear they would not be heeding a request by the EFF that the charges be withdrawn.

"The committee is advised and notes that neither the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act... nor the schedule to the rules allow withdrawal of charges against members," Mashile said.

"The committee cannot concede to the withdrawal of charges against the affected members. It does not have the powers to do so."

Speaker’s authority

Only the Speaker had the authority to withdraw charges against MPs.

Xaso is expected to conclude his testimony when proceedings resume on Thursday in the absence of the 20 accused MPs.

Malema and the other accused MPs withdrew from the process on Tuesday, following a statement made by Malema.

In his statement, Malema attacked the legitimacy of the committee and asked instead that Mbete be charged for disrupting parliamentary proceedings on 21 August.

EFF MPs chanted "Pay back the money" at President Jacob Zuma.

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.

The EFF MPs said they would have nothing further to do with the committee's process.

They risk being suspended from Parliament for up to 14 working days if found guilty of disrupting the legislature.

Read more on:    anc  |  eff  |  cape town  |  parliament 2014  |  politics

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