Parliament - The ANC in Parliament said on Thursday that the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) disruption of the National Assembly was an “orchestrated plan”.
“The African National Congress... condemns in the strongest terms a clearly orchestrated plan by the EFF,” it said in a statement.
“The disruptions and chaos caused by the EFF MPs in the House confirms an anonymous warning we received earlier today about a plan to disrupt today's sitting....”
EFF MPs disrupted proceedings while President Jacob Zuma was answering questions.
Tensions rose after EFF leader Julius Malema objected to Zuma's reply to a question about when he was going to repay part of the money spent on the R246 million security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had ordered them out earlier because they were “not serious” about proceedings.
“I will throw you out of the House if you don't listen,” Mbete shouted at EFF members, who responded by chanting “pay back the money”.
Long after being ordered out they still sat in their benches chanting and singing.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended in her report on Nkandla, titled “Secure in Comfort”, that Zuma repay part of the money.
Mbete adjourned Parliament for the day shortly after 4pm, announcing Zuma would not complete presidential question time because of the EFF's protest.
She said later in a briefing that Parliament was set to establish a committee to probe the EFF's conduct and a possible censure for the party's members.
“They (EFF) have definitely shown no regard for the conventions of Parliament,” Mbete said.
On the question about what possible censure Malema and his fellow MPs could face, Mbete said she and her fellow presiding officers would be “applying our minds overnight”.
Just minutes before Mbete addressed the media, Malema and the EFF leadership briefed journalists and defended their actions.
“It happened precisely because we cannot allow business as usual where people come to Parliament and don't take responsibility,” Malema said.
“The president uses Parliament to hide his shenanigans...”
Malema insisted that freedom of speech in Parliament was an absolute right.
“Protest is allowed. Freedom of expression is allowed.”
The SA Communist Party (SACP) said the EFF's actions had disgraced South Africa.
“They have disgraced South Africa, they have disgraced Parliament and they have disgraced themselves,” said spokesman Alex Mashilo.
“The EFF must not abuse and misuse the many freedoms that were so gallantly fought for by our people including the right to participate in Parliament.”
Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said what happened in Parliament was concerning.
“It compromises on the future of this country. I didn't think the EFF procedure was correct. There are rules of Parliament.”
However, he said Mbete had failed to let Malema get a response to his question and had failed to hold the executive to account.
“We want an urgent meeting with the Speaker to make sure this doesn't get repeated and that it gets sorted out properly.”
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the day's events were a wake-up call for the ANC.
“Zuma has been dodging to answer questions all these years,” he told Sapa via SMS.
“They gave him his medicine. This arrogance of power must come to an end.” - Sapa