EFF leader Julius Malema leaves Parliament with his supporters in Cape Town. The National Assembly was brought to a halt as EFF MPs chanted "pay back the money" at President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Mike Hutchings

Johannesburg -

The Economic Freedom Fighters trampled on Parliament's dignity by disrupting proceedings in the National Assembly on Thursday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.

“That is trampling on the dignity of Parliament as an institution... and if you want to destroy that institution for a short term satisfaction, you will regret it,” Mantashe told journalists after a dinner hosted by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Johannesburg.

“When there is no Parliament, there will be dictatorship.”

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had to adjourn the House on Thursday following a stand-off between her and EFF members.

The party's 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.

The EFF MPs refused to leave after Mbete ordered them out of the National Assembly. When she shouted at them, they responded by chanting “pay back the money”.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended in her report on Nkandla, titled “Secure In Comfort”, that Zuma repay part of the money.

Mbete later announced that Parliament would establish a committee to probe the conduct of the EFF.

Mantashe said Parliament should use its rules to deal with the incident.

“Parliament has all the infrastructure and the framework to deal with that issue. It requires strong leadership to deal with the matter decisively,” he said. - Sapa