Johannesburg - The EFF national leadership has condemned what it calls the violent and undemocratic decision of the ANC Speaker to remove its members from the Gauteng legislature.
“During the debate on the State of the Province, the speaker of the Gauteng legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, called police to remove Economic Freedom Fighters members from parliament because they were dressed in worker clothes,” spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In effect, a member of the legislature in the form of the Speaker has ordered other honourable members to be violated by the police because they were dressed in worker clothes as opposed to the elite suits.”
Ndlozi said Megkwe should be ashamed of herself as she was an embarrassment to the “democratic house of the people”.
EFF members were asked to leave the legislature for wearing red overalls with the word “Asijiki” (we will not go back) written on them.
The Times Live reported that Mekgwe said the EFF's red overalls were deemed inappropriate because “Asijiki” was considered party insignia.
Police had to be called to escort the members out.
Ndlozi said the EFF convener of Gauteng had to be taken to a medical facility after being removed from the legislature by police.
“What the speaker forgets is that EFF is there not because she employed it, but because more than a million South Africans voted for it. EFF therefore deserves to be in parliament, for this is the will of the people,” he said.
Ndlozi added that the party would not be bossed around to abandon the worker overalls in parliaments across the country because that was who it represented.
“No amount of beating by the ANC police will ever submit the EFF into abandoning the red overalls and domestic workers' dress codes,” Ndlozi said.
The party would make an urgent court application to interdict the Gauteng legislature not to dismiss EFF members on the basis that they wear overalls, he added.
Other parties strongly criticised the EFF's behaviour.
The ANC in Gauteng accused the EFF of undermining the legislature.
“The ANC in the Gauteng provincial legislature... noted with disgust the unbecoming behaviour of the EFF members of the provincial legislature during the sitting of the House,” Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa said in a statement.
“The ANC emphasises that the members of the legislatures are expected to be the custodians of the democratic institutions like the legislature.”
Hlongwa said the behaviour of EFF members contravened rule 31 of the legislature's standing rules. The rule deals with the appropriate dress code.
The SA Communist Party called the EFF an organisation battling with infantile disorder and left-wing childishness.
“The SACP wishes to emphasise that the conduct of the EFF represents an extremely backward, lumpen and chaotic tendency of anarchy with a mix of right-wing, populist and demagogic slant,” deputy provincial secretary Mpapa Kanyane said in a statement.
The Democratic Alliance expressed concern over comments made during the sitting.
The party claimed an EFF member said the country would “go up in flames” should the EFF be removed from the House.
“The fiasco caused in today's sitting by the EFF, dressed in red overalls, is in contravention of the House rules of the legislature. It was nothing less than cheap politics,” DA legislature spokesman John Moodey said.
Moodey cautioned the threats were not to be taken lightly.
“Such a statement would not be made by a rational person,” Moodey said.
The DA backed the legislature's decision to “uphold the integrity and decorum of the House”.