Opposition wants to call witnesses in disciplinary hearing

2014-10-15 14:43
(Dan Calderwood, News24)

(Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Cape Town - The disciplinary process against 20 EFF MPs was adjourned on Wednesday so MPs could meet behind closed doors to decide whether further witnesses should be called.

Opposition parties, which included the EFF, the DA, the UDM, and the IFP, wrote to Parliament's powers and privileges committee saying they should be empowered to call further witnesses to testify about the disorder that erupted in the National Assembly on 21 August.

Only one witness - secretary to the Assembly Masibulele Xaso - was called last week.

Opposition MPs said they believed Xaso could not answer some key questions on what transpired on 21 August when EFF MPs disrupted President Jacob Zuma's question time by chanting "pay back the money" at him.

This included why only 20 EFF MPs were being disciplined when video footage showed more EFF MPs participating in the disorder.

"Can we as members of this committee call witnesses if we feel we need them... because we are keen to call some witnesses to this hearing," said UDM MP Mncedisi Filtane.

"The schedule to the rules says the committee, the initiator, and the affected members may call witnesses," parliamentary legal advisor Gary Rhoda told MPs.

MPs were expected to return from deliberations after lunchtime to announce whether they had agreed that further witnesses should be called.

The disciplinary process would continue in the absence of the 20 MPs, who face contempt of Parliament charges.

The accused MPs withdrew from the process last week on Tuesday, following a statement by EFF leader Julius Malema.

In his statement, Malema attacked the legitimacy of the committee and asked instead that Speaker Baleka Mbete be charged for disrupting parliamentary proceedings. He asked for charges to be withdrawn.

The committee said it could not heed the request for the charges to be withdrawn as legally it did not have the power to do so.

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

Malema and the 19 EFF MPs risk being suspended from Parliament for up to 14 working days if found guilty.

Read more on:    da  |  udm  |  eff  |  ifp  |  cape town  |  politics  |  parliament 2014

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