File photo: ANA Archives.

PORT ELIZABETH - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise on Friday condemned the "unacceptable conduct" of EFF MPs during Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's budget vote speech. 

On Thursday, the EFF's Sam Matiase rose to interrupt Gordhan as the minister began delivering his department's budget vote speech in the legislature's room E249.

Matiase and fellow EFF MPs argued that they would not allow the minister to speak as he was a "constitutional delinquent". 

The conduct resulted in presiding officer Grace Baroto calling on protection officers to physically remove the party's members from the chamber.

Modise in a statement late Friday night expressed disappointment and strongly condemned Thursday night’s disruption.

"The inappropriate behaviour of the MPs was in clear contravention of the Rules of the House. Furthermore, the unacceptable conduct may have violated the provisions of the Powers Privileges Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act. 

"The Act prohibits members of Parliament from, amongst others, improperly interfering with the performance by a member of his or her functions, creating or taking part in any disturbance within the precincts and failing or refusing to comply with an instruction by a duly authorised staff member.
Modise reiterated that such inappropriate behaviour "has no place in Parliament as it undermines the decorum of the business of Parliament and erode the respect and confidence South Africans have in the institution. Parliament needs to sternly demonstrate intolerance to such conduct through a due process"
Parliament confirmed that a detailed report will be submitted to Modise by the presiding officer who chaired the sitting so that appropriate action can be determined.

Adding to this was the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) which slammed the behaviour of the EFF as outrageous.

"The HSF notes with great concern the events that took place in Parliament yesterday [Thursday] afternoon, and condemns the behaviour of members of the EFF in the strongest possible way."

It said the conduct, which amounted to gross intimidation, had no place in South Africa.

"We call on the Speaker of Parliament to take the necessary steps to ensure that those responsible for this outrageous behaviour are severely censured, and that the rules of Parliament are adhered to by all members," the HSF said.

IOL and African News Agency (ANA)