Chickens are coming home to roost for the EFF as its MPs face up to disrupting the state of the nation address (Sona) over the presence of former apartheid president FW de Klerk and their attack on public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan during a parliamentary speech.
The powers and privileges committee, which deals with disciplinary matters affecting MPs, meets on Tuesday to consider legal opinion on the Sona disruption in February. The committee sought legal advice on how to approach the incident. It also wanted parliament to appoint an outside initiator (prosecutor) for the two cases.
Committee chairperson Philly Mapulane confirmed to TimesLIVE on Monday that it had sought legal opinion because the De Klerk case was complex.
They also did not want to put parliament’s legal advisers in a position where they had to initiate charges against MPs. “We are going to get all that feedback tomorrow,” said Mapulane.
He said after agreeing on the appointment of the initiator, he or she would draft charges to be sent to affected MPs for their response.
On the Gordhan matter in July 2019, Mapulane said the committee had agreed there was a case to answer, but again the initiator would draft the charges.
The Covid-19 lockdown delayed proceedings. The advice was sought six months ago but was only finalised two weeks ago.
EFF MPs held up the start of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sona address by over an hour in February while objecting to De Klerk’s presence in the house.
Led by Julius Malema, who said it was a mistake for parliament to invite De Klerk, they demanded that he be ejected from the annual joint sitting.
“Speaker, we have a murderer in the house,” said Malema, rising on a point of order.
“We have a man who has got blood of innocent people in this house, which is supposed to represent the wills of our people — and therefore it’s incorrect for you to have extended an invitation to De Klerk because De Klerk is a murderer.
“The people of Boipatong are still crying and De Klerk said apartheid was not a crime against humanity. He is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid, he is not willing to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity.”
EFF MPs followed Malema’s call, including a call to Ramaphosa to fire Gordhan for failures at Eskom and SAA.
Seven months earlier, Gordhan had to be whisked away from a parliamentary podium as EFF MPs charged towards him in attempt to prevent him from delivering his departmental budget speech.
In a rowdy session, about 20 EFF MPs physically moved towards Gordhan, after one of their own, Sam Matiase, declared that they would not allow Gordhan to deliver his speech.
They argued that Gordhan should not be allowed to speak, saying he was a “constitutional delinquent” following adverse findings against him by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over his role in the establishment of the Sars “rogue unit”.
This will not be the first time that a group of EFF MPs appear before the powers and privileges committee.
They were charged in October 2014 for chanting “pay back the money” during question time with then president Jacob Zuma, which led to a suspension of the session. While they committee found against them, its decision was overturned by the high court in Cape Town.