‘Speaker dealt with EFF disruptions to the best of her ability’, Parliament told
EFF MPs are facing charges of contempt of Parliament for disrupting a House sitting in June 2022.
Chaos erupts after members of EFF are asked to leave the house during the Presidency Budget Vote Debate Response at Parliament on 10 June 2022. Picture: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula handled the “chaos” caused by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members in Parliament “to the best of her ability”, the Powers and Privileges Committee has heard.
On Tuesday, the committee continued with its disciplinary hearings into the conduct of the 10 EFF MPs accused of disrupting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s budget vote on 9 and 10 June 2022.
The parliamentary sittings were marred by points of orders about Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm scandal.
The EFF MPs were forcefully removed from the National Assembly after failing to obey Mapisa-Nqakula‘s instruction.
The party members – including Naledi Chirwa, Yoliswa Yako, Sinawo Tambo and Natasha Ntlangwini – were charged with contempt of Parliament, among other charges.
They have all pleaded not guilty.
‘Chaos in the House’
On Tuesday, Advocate Tanya Golden, the initiator in the matter, continued to question Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso about what had transpired as video footage was being presented.
Xaso testified that the EFF MPs contravened the rules of Parliament, which then led to the sitting being temporarily suspended.
“Proceedings were suspended at that point because of what had just happened. There was chaos in the House, but it was mainly because of what the member had done crossing the floor.
“As I have said it is something that is very unusual to do so the speaker felt that proceedings must be suspended… because what had happened was outrageous as far as the speaker was concerned,” he said.
The secretary said the MPs kept on disrupting proceedings even after Mapisa-Nqakula “demonstrated extreme patience”.
“The speaker had ruled earlier that she’s not taking points of order and the honourable member tried to intervene,” Xaso continued.
He alleged the MPs also physically handled parliamentary officials after having resisted to leave the building.
“The sergeant-at-arms was pushed by the member, so the member interfered in the performance of his duties and he pushed him and the speaker made note of that.”
‘Complainant and judge’
Advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto, representing the EFF, raised concern about the procedural aspects of the disciplinary process during Xaso’s cross-examination.
Ka-Siboto suggested that the Powers and Privileges Committee was both the complainant and judge as it considered and decided to charge MPs after the matter was referred by the Rules Committee.
“One must assume that this committee would have applied its mind before charging the members that are charged here and if that’s the case then they have got preconceived notions about the guilt or otherwise of the members in this hearing.”
But Xaso disagreed.
“I don’t know [what] they have in mind, but what I know is that these members have been charged and this process is supposed to determine, according to the committee, the guilt or otherwise of the members.
“There have been at least a case that have served before this committee which was referred and the committee in the end concluded that there was no basis to charge the members that related to a Sona incident so the preconceived ideas of views on matters are really for the committee to talk about that.”
Watch the proceedings below:
Ka-Siboto later pointed out the alleged double standards of Mapisa-Nqakula because the speaker failed to intervene when insults were hurled at EFF MP Floyd Shivambu.
“Is it fair of the speaker to admonish and ask members to withdraw for calling the president a criminal and a money-launderer yet at the same time not reprimand and seek punishment of members who called Shivambu a murderer and part of a syndicate in the VBS heist?” the advocate asked.
In his response, Xaso said: “I recall the manner in which the speaker ran the proceedings on the day fairly and she dealt with the matters before her to the best of her ability. That would be my version.”
The EFF is challenging the legality of the proceedings in the Western Cape High Court, with the matter set to be heard on Thursday, according to Ka-Siboto.
The party, which has accused the committee of being unfair, had wanted the hearing to be suspended in order for the committee to conduct a preliminary independent inquiry into some of the charges.
The Red Berets also want Mapisa-Nqakula to testify herself in the hearing.
However, Golden has argued that the speaker’s evidence was needed to prove the charges against the MPs as they relied on the video footage.