Shivambu stands his ground on claims that Parliamentary legal services were infiltrated by right-wing forces
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Cape Town - EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu stood his ground when the allegations he made against the parliamentary legal services came up for discussion in the National Assembly programming committee meeting on Thursday.
This after chair of chairs Cedric Frolick informed the committee about last Friday’s incident in the meeting of the ad hoc committee on Section 25 where Shivambu said the legal services were infiltrated by right-wing forces.
Frolick said they could not take the unfortunate comments lightly because they would have far-reaching consequences.
“If a member was unhappy with the legal opinion that was provided, the member is within his right to say that they don’t agree with it. To say the legal services have been infiltrated is taking it too far and it must be substantiated,” he said.
Shivambu confirmed that he made the comments and that he stood by them.
He also said the legal opinion the ad hoc committee obtained coincided with right wing forces' opinion and sought to dissuade Parliament from implementing what they agreed on.
“It is infiltration that seeks to dissuade us from achieving what we had agreed in principle. We will never allow that,” he said.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the matter was extremely serious and warranted an inquiry.
“We can’t have these untested statements and allegations made without an independent commission of inquiry,” Singh said.
Freedom Front Plus’ Corne Mulder also said the allegations were serious and noted Shivambu last week undertook to write to Modise but had not done so.
“I would like to see it investigated and if it is not the case, I would ask for necessary steps to be taken against Honourable Shivambu because we can’t allow this type of behaviour,” he added.
ACDP’s Steve Swart said it was not the first time Shivambu made the allegations.
“But to cast aspersions on staff members is unacceptable. They are employees and have certain rights as well as,” Swart said.
NFP’s Munzoor Emam Shaik said: “It is totally unacceptable and I think it must be dealt with accordingly.”
DA chief Natasha Mazzone said it was very clear that when a process did not go a way of a certain party or disagreed with an opinion, it cast aspersions.
“One of the problems we have is there is no comeback and there is no accountability to members who continuously break the rules of Parliament, cause disruption and cast these kinds of aspersions,” she said before calling for some accountability against Shivambu.
EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi came to the defence of Shivambu, saying he has not killed anyone and had a right to his opinion.
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said MPs should use appropriate language and not use inflammatory language especially towards staff that could not defend themselves in committees.
“The onus is on the member who made such a hectic statement, Honourable Shivambu, toward that section to provide that evidence he suggests may exist,” he said before he shot down the suggestion of an inquiry.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the allegation against the legal services was quite disturbing.
“If we don’t agree with any legal opinion that is brought forward, we have the right to seek other legal opinions than cast aspersions. This incident is very unfortunate and not acceptable, Honourable Speaker,” she said.
But, Shivambu insisted that he had a right to question the integrity of people who give opinions that have integrity.
He insisted that they would not be intimidated and questioned the “nonsense” of investigating a complainant.
“What kind of democracy is this? I think people have a nonsensical approach to understanding democracy,” Shivambu said.
Modise cautioned Shivambu to watch his language.
“It is not on to say inputs of other members are nonsensical when they express their opinions,” she said.
Modise said they expected Shivambu to write his letter.
“That letter has to substantiate the infiltration rather than the wrongness of the legal opinion,” she said.
Modise also said they would make a determination on what to do after receiving a substantiated motion.