The Economic Freedom Fighters will go to court to oppose looming suspension from Parliament for disrupting presidential question time last week, party leader Julius Malema said on Thursday.
All 25 EFF MPs in the National Assembly were responding to Speaker Baleka Mbete’s letters of warning with help from lawyers and giving her a deadline by which to assure them that she would not move a motion next week calling for their suspension, he said.
Should she fail to give that undertaking, the lawyers would approach the high court for an urgent interdict barring the legislature from suspending them for the threatened seven to fourteen days.
“We don’t believe there is any basis for such a suspension,” Malema told journalists at Parliament.
He said it was not true that his party had disrupted a sitting of the Assembly because they had only started chanting “pay back the money” –referring to the public protector’s recommendation that President Jacob Zuma should repay some of the state funds spent on his Nkandla home –after Mbete had adjourned the sitting.
Moreover, Malema said, she never called on EFF members by name to leave the chamber, but merely said “members of this house who are not serious” should do so.
This did not apply to his party, he said, as it took its political mandate and democratic accountably very seriously.
“The real reasons why these people want to suspend us is they want Jacob Zuma to come and answer questions during our 14 days suspension and secondly they don’t want me to participate in the ad hoc committee which will be looking into Nkandla”, which holds its first meeting on Friday, he said.
“We are going to apply for an urgent interdict, interdicting her and Parliament from suspending us because we don’t think there are bases for any of us to be suspended.
“So we are all 25 of us going to approach the high court individually.
“We believe they want to continue doing wrong things in our absence. We are elected by the people, we are here to serve the people and therefore it must not be easy for a member of a political party to suspend members of other political parties because if that is as simple as Baleka wants to say, then we are going to be suspended permanently.”
He accused the speaker and the ruling party of “always looking for the shortcut on political questions”, adding that the ANC had lost its intellectual heft and secretary general Gwede Mantashe had “run out of reason”.
Malema said the EFF would submit their letters to Mbete on Friday, and give her either 24 or 48 hours to respond.
On Friday morning they would use a meeting of opposition parties to discuss the work of the committee set up to deliberate on the Nkandla question, to seek their support to counter a ruling party vote to suspend EFF MPs. SAPA