Malema holds a gun to Mbete’s head

EFF leader de­liv­ers an ul­ti­ma­tum to the Speaker: con­vene a spe­cial ses­sion of Par­lia­ment, or the state of the na­tion speech will be dis­rupted

CityPress - - Front Page - AN­DISIWE MAK­I­NANA and CAI­PHUS KGOSANA news@city­press.co.za

E co­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) leader Julius Malema says Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete must ei­ther con­vene an early spe­cial sit­ting of the House to al­low Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to con­clude a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion that be be­gan five months ago, or his party will dis­rupt the state of the na­tion speech.

In a two-page let­ter to Mbete, Malema calls on her to con­vene the spe­cial sit­ting be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing of Par­lia­ment on Fe­bru­ary 12, or the EFF will dis­rupt Pres­i­dent Zuma dur­ing the open­ing of Par­lia­ment.

“We of­fi­cially ask that you con­vene Par­lia­ment prior to the 12th of Fe­bru­ary 2015, which will pri­mar­ily af­ford the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of South Africa [to fin­ish his ques­tion ses­sion].

“Please note that fail­ure to ac­com­mo­date our re­quest will give us no other op­tion but to in­sist that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma an­swer the ques­tions [dur­ing] the state of the na­tion ad­dress,” Malema wrote.

Pres­i­dent Zuma last ap­peared in Par­lia­ment in Au­gust when his ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion was in­ter­rupted by EFF MPs shout­ing “pay back the money”, a ref­er­ence to find­ings of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor that Zuma was li­able for all non-se­cu­rity up­grades at his home in Nkandla.

Pan­de­mo­nium broke out after EFF MPs ac­cused Zuma of be­ing eva­sive with his an­swers. They banged on ta­bles and chairs, and po­lice had to be called in to try to re­store or­der. The sit­ting was even­tu­ally aban­doned.

Since then, op­po­si­tion par­ties have been try­ing to get Zuma back to Par­lia­ment to an­swer a num­ber of ques­tions posed by MPs, specif­i­cally on the Nkandla mat­ter.

EFF MPs who dis­rupted Zuma were even­tu­ally charged by Par­lia­ment and found guilty in ab­sen­tia. Malema, his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, and na­tional spokesper­son Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi were sus­pended for 20 days and docked of a month’s salary. Six oth­ers faced a 14-day sus­pen­sion with­out pay.

But the party ap­proached the courts to have the sanc­tion, which was sup­posed to have been ef­fected in De­cem­ber, halted. The EFF won an in­ter­dict pre­vent­ing Par­lia­ment from im­pos­ing sanc­tions on its MPs. The let­ter to the Speaker is an in­di­ca­tion that the bat­tles in Par­lia­ment are set to con­tinue this year.

Malema said in the let­ter that prece­dence had al­ready been set when a spe­cial sit­ting of the House was con­vened late in Novem­ber to adopt the re­port of the pow­ers and priv­i­leges com­mit­tee, which deals with dis­ci­pline among MPs.

“Par­lia­ment has al­ready set prece­dence of con­ven­ing spe­cial sit­tings for spe­cific mat­ters, and this was con­firmed when it was con­vened on Novem­ber 28 2014 to re­ceive the re­port of the pow­ers and priv­i­leges com­mit­tee, and to deal with other business of the Na­tional Assem­bly.” He warned that should his re­quest be ig­nored, his party would have no choice but to use the state of the na­tion speech to de­mand an­swers from the pres­i­dent.

Malema told City Press that he wrote the let­ter be­cause the rules of Par­lia­ment stated clearly that if the pres­i­dent could not fin­ish his ques­tion ses­sion for any rea­son, he should be al­lowed to con­tinue where he left off at the next ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion. “Pres­i­dent Zuma was not able to fin­ish the last time he came to Par­lia­ment to an­swer ques­tions. We think that he must be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to con­clude this be­fore the open­ing of Par­lia­ment.”

The pres­i­dency in­sists that Zuma, who is not an MP, has ful­filled all his par­lia­men­tary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for 2014 be­cause he is only re­quired to an­swer ques­tions four times a year. Asked if the EFF was con­cerned about Par­lia­ment pos­si­bly beefing up se­cu­rity in an­tic­i­pa­tion of dis­rup­tions dur­ing the state of the na­tion speech, Malema said their re­quest for an ear­lier spe­cial sit­ting was not in con­tra­ven­tion of any rules of Par­lia­ment.

He said it was up to the Speaker to de­cide if she wanted Zuma to con­clude his ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion ear­lier, or dur­ing the state of the na­tion speech. “We will abide by all the rules of Par­lia­ment, but the Speaker must de­cide,” he said. Should the EFF carry out its threat, it would be the first time since 1994 that a sit­ting pres­i­dent’s state of the na­tion speech gets dis­rupted.

Par­lia­men­tary deco­rum dic­tates that the pres­i­dent is af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to de­liver the state of the na­tion speech on a set date. Afew days later, all par­ties are given an op­por­tu­nity to de­bate the speech. The pres­i­dent then re­sponds once this de­bate is con­cluded.

Mbete’s spokesper­son, Mand­lakazi Sig­cawu, con­firmed re­ceipt of the let­ter and said it was re­ceiv­ing at­ten­tion.

Julius Malema

Baleka Mbete

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