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EFF defends “staged protest”

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The Economic Freedom Fighters has defended its “staged protest” which caused a disruption in the National Assembly.

Party spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi named three reasons for the protest in parliament on Thursday.

“President [Jacob] Zuma did not respond to the public protector’s report and directive that public money was spent in his private home security upgrade and to that extent he must pay back,” he said in a statement.

“President Zuma was asked by the EFF [leader] Julius Malema in parliament as to when is he paying back the money as per the Public Protector’s directive, but Zuma did not respond and chose to stick to the nonsense that the minister of the police must determine who is going to pay.”

He said the third reason was because the public protector’s report must be “duly complied with” because it was a chapter nine institution.

Ndlozi said Zuma “insulted the intelligence of parliament” and that of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela by saying the police minister must indicate who should pay the money.

On Thursday, EFF MPs disrupted proceedings while Zuma was answering questions.

Tensions rose after 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.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had ordered them out earlier because they were “not serious” about proceedings.

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

Ndlozi said in a statement that Parliament’s duty was to hold the “executive accountable” which meant Zuma should answer questions raised to him in the house.

“The EFF cannot join the toothless tactics of parliamentary procedure when the very foundation of the rule of law is undermined by the executive,” he said.

“To suppress these questions through orders is a suppression of the very constitutional duty of holding the executive accountable… He comes to parliament hoping to escape accountability through his majority in parliament and the ANC speaker.”

Ndlozi said there was no other place for Zuma to “humble himself” and be answerable to the people.

However, the African National Congress said it would lay assault charges against Malema, Andile Mngxitama and the EFF after police had to break up a scuffle between EFF MPs and ANC Youth League national task team member Braam Hanekom.

“We fully support the investigation and shall mobilise support for our leadership that is being harassed by the EFF,” spokesman Bandile Masuku said.

“As the ANC Youth League, we were shocked by the anarchy and violent behaviour of EFF… In their attention seeking efforts some of them may think that they are radical. The behaviour seen in parliament today was not only disgraceful, but also violent.”

He said South Africans should not accept that MP’s engage in physical attacks inside the gates of Parliament.

The scuffle broke out shortly after Mbete adjourned the House following the EFF’s refusal to leave after she ordered them out.

Masuku said the “man-handling” of Hanekom was a very serious insult to South Africa but also a criminal act.

He said they would utilise the criminal justice system. SAPA

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