Parliament's inquiry into EFF fracas during Gordhan budget speech to resume next year

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EFF members disrupt the State of the Nation Address on February 13, 2020 in Cape Town.
EFF members disrupt the State of the Nation Address on February 13, 2020 in Cape Town.
PHOTO: Jefferey Abrahams/Gallo Images
  • An inquiry into the EFF’s disruption of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget speech will resume next year.
  • In July 2019, 20 EFF MPs stormed the podium while Gordhan delivered his Budget speech.
  • Parliament’s Powers and Privileges Committee had to postpone their meeting after some members exited the virtual meeting, leaving the committee without a quorum.

Parliament’s inquiry into the conduct of EFF members who charged towards Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan during his Budget speech last year, has hit another snag.

On Friday, the legislature’s Powers and Privileges Committee received closing arguments and deliberations from the inquiry’s initiator advocate Ncumisa Mayosi.

MPs were, however, unable to fully deliberate on the matter or agree on a way forward as two ANC members had to exit the virtual meeting due to prior engagements, leaving the committee without a quorum of at least six members.

ANC MPs Dipuo Peters and Violet Siwela had to leave the meeting, while the party's National Assembly deputy chief whip Dorries Dlakude, who is also a member of the committee, also had a prior engagement.

READ | Parliament turns the heat on EFF members who disrupted Gordhan's Budget speech

Committee chairperson Philly Mapulane said there was no other option but to postpone the meeting to the earliest available date next year.

"There has to be a certain number of members present when we decide on the submissions that have been made. I am worried that we may not have the necessary quorum to decide on whether the members, we are finding them guilty as charged of having contravened the rules and contempt of Parliament. Or we don’t," he said.

He also said:

It’s a bit unfortunate that we don’t have a quorum for this meeting. I thought that members would have prioritised this meeting, given the fact that the matter brought here ha[s] been sitting with the committee for quite some time. We are talking about [a] matter that happened in 2019, we are now in 2020 and approaching the end of the year and we have not disposed of the matter.
 In July last year, 20 EFF MPs stormed the podium while Gordhan delivered his Budget speech. This prevented the minister from delivering his speech until they were removed from the House by parliamentary security.

Mayosi said the evidence the committee had viewed proved all the charges against the affected MPs.

The EFF members are charged in terms of the rules of Parliament and the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislators Act.

"The evidence before the committee has not been rebutted. I submit that a proper case has been made for a finding that each affected member contravened the provisions of Section 7A, 7B and 7E of the Act and accordingly each affected member is guilty of contempt of Parliament in terms 13A and 13C of the Act," she said.

READ ALSO | EFF MPs accused of attacking Pravin Gordhan absent for day one of disciplinary hearing

Mayosi said the National Assembly may impose a penalty on the affected members.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Nldozi said: "We should receive this submission in writing, as it will make our deliberations easier."

Meanwhile, the committee adopted its report into EFF members accused of disrupting the State of the Nation Address (SONA) over former president FW De Klerk's presence, and they are off the hook for the time being.

In its report, the committee found the referral of the SONA incident did not have a reasonable prospect of success and therefore should not be proceeded with.

"With regard to the ruling by the presiding officers ordering EFF MP Nokulunga Primrose Sonti to leave the Chamber, the committee is recommending that since the order for Ms Sonti to leave the chamber was not pursued following the objection to the manner it was done, it could be reasonably inferred that she was probably absolved from having to comply with the instruction."

Mapulane said:

The committee also recommends that the thrower(s) of the water bottles could not be identified from the video footage due to the angle of the camera, and therefore it is not possible to take that matter further.

He said, in view of the inadequacy of the joint rules to deal with challenges as experienced during the SONA, "a process to update the Joint Rules should be embarked upon as a matter of urgency".

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