Cape Town - Tensions in Parliament are set to escalate even further after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) promised President Jacob Zuma a hot reception whenever he appears there, and the DA said it would no longer recognise the authority of Speaker Baleka Mbete.
This follows a session on Thursday that left at least six MPs hurt after police in riot gear dragged an EFF MP from the chamber. The scuffles involved at least one cabinet minister and a deputy minister.
The fracas followed a reciprocation of insults on all sides and an opposition attempt to delay the adoption of a report by the ad hoc committee dealing with Zuma’s response to Parliament on the security upgrades at his Nkandla residence.
Tempers frayed and, at one point, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu had to be restrained from attacking EFF MP Godrich Gardee outside the chamber. EFF MP Reneilwe Mashabela was allegedly assaulted by police as they tried to remove her, after the House chairman had ordered her to leave, for calling Zuma “thief” and refusing to withdraw the comment.
DA MP Juanita Terblanche has laid a charge of assault against Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana, while DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said the party had laid charges against the police after four MPs were hurt when they tried to intervene in Mashabela’s removal.
The feed from Parliament’s in-house TV and audio service was cut during the fray, prompting the SA National Editors’ Forum to issue a statement, saying it was “disturbed” by such repeated censorship. Mbete defended the move, saying that cutting the feed preserved Parliament’s ”image and the dignity”.
Maimane said Mbete had destroyed her credibility as Speaker, and that the DA would no longer recognise her authority. He’d written to the leader of government business, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, demanding an urgent meeting to discuss “the abuse of the Parliament by the ANC”.
Ramaphosa, he says, should support a motion of no confidence in Mbete at the next sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, and should also promise that riot police would never be allowed into the chamber again.
Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema said in Joburg the party would file an urgent court application to have the actions of the police declared illegal. He also threatened to prevent Zuma from delivering his State of the Nation address at the opening of Parliament next year until he answered questions on the money spent on his Nkandla homestead.
“Zuma must step down or there will never be peace in that Parliament,” he warned. “The ANC must tell him to go.”