The Powers and privileges committee on Thursday found EFF MPs Khanya Ceza and Nazier Paulsen guilty of contempt of Parliament when they disrupted National Assembly proceedings in August last year.
However, their colleague Ntombovuyo Mente was acquitted by the disciplinary hearing, which started on Monday.
The committee imposed a one-month suspension without pay on Ceza and Paulsen. This would be implemented in March.
The pair will also have to tender an apology to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, President Cyril Ramaphosa and South Africans.
The EFF MPs were charged for disregarding the authority of Mapisa-Nqakula and refusing to leave the House. This was after they were ordered to during a question and answer session by Ramaphosa.
In her closing argument, initiator Tanya Golden said it was abundantly clear that Ceza and Paulsen caused huge disruption and disturbance in the National Assembly when they refused to leave when instructed by Mapisa-Nqakula.
“It is clear madam chairperson and the committee that they blatantly disregarded and disrespected the authority of the Speaker when she made certain rulings and ordered them to leave the House,” Golden said.
Legal representative for EFF MPs Mfesane Ka-Siboto said the committee was not properly constituted because of perception of bias in the multiparty committee led by the ANC.
He said the EFF MPs would not get a fair hearing and the committee should wait for an application challenging the constituting of the committee.
Ka-Siboto also said National Assembly Secretary Masibulele Xaso was an adviser to Parliament and had been used as a witness in the hearing.
“The perception of bias is palpable and can’t escape best as you may try.” He said that the charges stemmed from unfairness of decisions made by Mapisa-Nqakula, who had inconsistently applied the rules.
During a discussion by the committee, DA MP Annelie Lotriet said they were not inhibited from exercising their duty though there was still an application to be heard next year.
“Our rules are not suspended,” she said.
Lotriet said the members did not obey or adhere to the instructions of Mapisa-Nqakula.
She added that there was internal remedy when MPs were not happy with the ruling by a presiding officer.
ANC chief whip Doris Dlakude said Parliament like any institution has internal processes and rules to guide its proceedings.
“It can’t be that Parliament as an institution, its rules for proceeding are disregarded by members who are supposed to uphold the decorum of the House,” she said.
Dlakude said the behaviour of Ceza and Paulsen was unacceptable.
“They disrupted the House with their behaviour and that is not what is expected of MPs to do. The two members have grossly disrespected or disorganised the House on that day,” she added.
Golden said both had been found guilty previously for disrupting proceedings of the House in 2019.
“A further factor to being repeat offenders, during these proceedings they showed absolutely no remorse, in particular Mr Paulsen. He continued to be defiant. He was unapologetic and disrespectful to the proceedings and the committee,” she added.
But, Ka-Siboto said the MPs could not be punished twice.
He also said his clients would not take joy in not representing their constituencies when suspended for a month without pay.
He described the sanctions of apology and suspension as draconian.
Lotriet, however, said the right and immunities of MPs were not unfettered.
“If you have that responsibility of representing a community, you actually have the greatest care and duty to represent their right by your behaviour,” she said.
The IFP was also in support of the sanctions but, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Ceza and Paulsen should have been treated in the same way as Mente.
Ndlozi said the hearing did not prove the case against Paulsen and that there were no grounds that Ceza deliberately violated the rules.
“The imposed sanctions, I find them ridiculous, punitive not corrective and if anything above all, I find them political,” Ndlozi said.
“There is serious discrimination against EFF members from those presiding officers, including the Speaker, on the day in question,” he said.