EFF leader Julius Malema on Thursday claimed opposition MPs risked being assassinated in Parliament unless presiding officers were prevented from calling police into the National Assembly. Malema said the fact that riot police did not wear uniforms or names when they dragged the Economic Freedom Fighters from the chamber on February 12, paved the way for ANC politicians to use apartheid-era dirty tricks against the opposition.
“That is how dictatorship operates,” he told a media briefing of six opposition parties as the first parliamentary term of the year drew to a close.
“It establishes security units which are not accounted for by legislation, security units which cannot be held accountable and then who commands such unit? It is politicians.
“What criteria do politicians use to command those units? They look at individuals they don’t like. They say take that one out and then they kill you.
“They are about to kill.”
It is Malema’s strongest pronouncement yet on the manhandling of the EFF by armed police clad in plain white shirts shortly before President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address on February 12. Malema said two weeks after this, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told him the police were called into the chamber — not to negotiate with the EFF — but to “assault” them.
“He said that to me. So an instruction has been given from Luthuli House for members of the opposition to be beaten up.”
Malema said the EFF had no intention to stop “stretching the rules to the letter” and therefore expected more force, but feared its MPs could be poisoned next time police dragged them out of the House.
“What if one of them has got an injection and injects that person with a poison. We are dealing with an askari. We are dealing with people who have killed their own members in exile.
“They take them underground they go and inject them, in three months, four months’ time the person dies. They are told it is a natural cause.
“That is what apartheid did,” he said.
Opposition parties met Speaker Baleka Mbete at length on Wednesday and Thursday. Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said they had asked her, thus far in vain, for an undertaking that she would not again resort to calling the police when a session turned rowdy.
The DA has approached the Western Cape High Court to challenge the constitutional validity of section 11 of the Powers and Privileges Act, which allows the Speaker to summon the police. On Monday, judgment was reserved, Maimane said that in the meanwhile there was a risk that the violence of February 12 could be repeated as Zuma was scheduled to appear in the National Assembly at least four times more this year to respond to questions.
When Zuma did so last Wednesday, Maimane added, the same police unit was plainly visible outside the doors of the chamber.
“If it drags on in court, it means that every session with the president then becomes high security. We urge the Speaker, we urge the presiding officers to desist from this practice.
“The last place where we want to be is one where members of Parliament are in fact fighting police in the house, who are a tactical unit which has in fact been concocted for the purpose in our view of suppressing the views of opposition parties.”
Maimane said if the DA lost in the high court, it would appeal to the Constitutional Court. Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus said he believed that regardless of the eventual court ruling on section 11 of the act, a solution had to be found in Parliament which precluded calling on the police to remove MPs.
“Whatever happens in court, we really believe that in the end we must get to a solution here where there is no police involved.” SAPA