Johannesburg - Tempers flared in a committee overseeing the disciplinary of EFF members for disrupting Parliament, with members of the ANC expressing anger at the insults directed at them and Parliament over processes to be followed in the hearing.
There were several heated exchanges on Thursday between former defence minister Charles Nqakula and EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.
But intervention by committee chairman Lemias Mashile eventually succeeded in calming tension in the meeting.
The committee also agreed to appoint employment law specialist Randall van Voore as the initiator (someone who will lead the probe).
He will formulate the charges against 20 of the 25 EFF members for disrupting proceedings in Parliament three weeks ago, when President Jacob Zuma was responding to verbal questions.
Prior to the powers and privileges committee settling on Van Voore, it was a pressure cooker of tension between the ANC and EFF.
The problem started when Shivambu accused Mashile of being a “terrible” chairman.
When he told the meeting that the committee would be biased against the EFF, Mashile said there were three legal advisers from Parliament at the meeting to ensure they followed the law.
One of the legal advisers, advocate Mukesh Vassen, said members facing disciplinary charges would not be allowed to be part of the hearing.
However, the EFF could select members not facing charges to sit in on the hearing. This was the principle of natural justice, he added.
But Shivambu dismissed his explanation.
“I don’t know what the lawyers are doing here. There is no rule that says we must excuse ourselves. We are not going to excuse ourselves,” Shivambu said.
ANC MP Bongani Bongo said they supported the legal opinion of the parliamentary legal advisers as it was well researched.
But Shivambu said he would not listen to “rascals”.
This elicited an angry response from Nqakula, who said that when they took up arms against the apartheid regime and joined Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), it was because they did not tolerate nonsense.
“We are not going to tolerate this nonsense now,” Nqakula said.
Shivambu said they would not be threatened with MK.
Nqakula retorted that Shivambu was being “silly”. “This boy is silly,” he added.
It was left to Mashile to calm the nerves in the committee.
DA MP Annalie Lotriet proposed that Van Voore be appointed to prosecute the EFF. The official opposition’s nomination of the initiator was backed by the ANC and IFP.
But the EFF wanted a retired judge. Shivambu said many practising lawyers would in one way or another be involved in doing business with the state. But his suggestion was rejected.