Cape Town - National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula escaped being removed from office when the EFF’s no confidence motion did not muster the required majority of votes on Wednesday.
Only 42 MPs voted for the removal of Mapisa-Nqakula while 234 voted against and 73 abstained.
“The motion is therefore not agreed to,” said House chairperson Cedric Frolick when announcing the results after the counting of votes.
The EFF tabled the motion after they were ejected from the sitting that took place on February 9 when President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address.
Speaking during the debate, EFF leader Julius Malema said they tabled the motion because it had become clear that they were dealing with an “unrepentant delinquent” who abused her power and violated the rules of the National Assembly and the constitution.
“What we saw on February 9 2023, when the Speaker called MPs animals and violated the Constitution and of the National Assembly when she allowed the police to invade Parliament and made it worse by calling security forces to enter the chamber to intimidate peaceful MPs is not something we can take (lightly),” he said.
Malema said Mapisa-Nqakula had instructed parliamentary protection officers to assault MPs, with women MPs touched inappropriately by men.
“Whenever Mr Ramaphosa is being held accountable, she chooses violence,” he said.
Malema accused Mapisa-Nqakula of ignoring their request for a secret vote when the independent panel’s report on Phala Phala was voted for in December.
“Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula entered the office of Speaker with a predetermined agenda of protecting Mr Ramaphosa from any and all scrutiny at all costs,” he said.
“As the EFF, we table this motion with the Speaker because under her the gains of our democracy are reserved at a rapid rate. If she is to continue as Speaker, the ruling party and its president will continue to loot state resources, launder money, evade tax and violate the Constitution without any accountability,” Malema said.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the ability of Parliament to effectively intervene to change the material condition of people was often diverted when the parliamentary platform was used to serve a narrow political agenda.
She lashed out at the EFF for its “populist and destructive” behaviour. She said on countless occasions they had witnessed deliberate acts of sabotage and disruption through brazen acts of anarchy and intimidation.
“We are here to debate a motion by the very same group of anarchists who have no interest in the transformative agenda of this sacred Chamber,” Dlakude said, adding the EFF had threatened Ramaphosa’s safety on February 9.
The DA’s Annelie Lotriet said a motion of no confidence was no trivial matter and could not be limited to a single incident.
She said the question to be asked was whether there were sufficient grounds.
“Our view is that the gravity of such a motion has to be preceded by a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the performance of the Speaker regarding a number of critical matters that have an impact on the functioning of Parliament,” she said.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said his party recognised the importance of holding elected officials accountable.
Singh said it was not enough to call for a motion of no confidence, without presenting evidence or justification.
“We urge the opposition to consider and refrain from using motions for political point-scoring without being sure of substantive evidence and considering all facts,” he said.
Freedom Front Plus leader Petrus Groenewald said Mapisa-Nqakula had an obligation to ensure the integrity and decorum of the House was protected.
He said there should be a rule that provided for MPs refusing to leave the House to be fined.
ACDP chief whip Steve Swart said security forces entered the Chamber because they were allowed to do so without the sanction of the Speaker.
UDM chief whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said the motion was premature.
Hed said there was still an investigation by Parliament into the February 9 incident.
“Do we not run into preempting the outcome of those processes?” he asked.
ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said Mapisa-Nqakula was shielding the executive from accountability.
NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said Mapisa-Nqakula had done the right thing to call the security police when there was mayhem and chaos in the Chamber.
“I want to commend you for what you have done. When you have an opportunity, do it again,” Shaik-Emam said.