The parliamentary disciplinary process against the 20 EFF members of parliament who are facing charges of being in contempt of parliament is set to continue even though the the accused members have pulled out of the process, citing the absence of fairness.
The ANC-led committee will continue with the process and have called in several witnesses to testify before it about the behavior of the opposition members on the day in question, the 21st of August, when the EFF members were seen chanting ‘pay back the money’ at President Zuma in reference to part of the R246 million that was used in the upgrades to his Nkandla home in KwaZulu Natal. This was during a question and answer session on the President’s response to the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela’s report, which recommended among other things that Zuma pay back part of the public money spent on the upgrades.
The Powers and Privileges Committee resolved on Thursday to call the following to give evidence; Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Deputy ANC chief whip Doris Dlakude, DA deputy chief whip John Steenhuisen, National Assembly sergeant-at-arms Regina Mohlomi, and an ICT section manager. This witness list was agreed upon after the members of the opposition had complained about not being able to call witnesses. These opposition parties, which had threatened to pull out of the committee include Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance, the United Democratic Movement and the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Committee chairperson Lemias Mashile said that he hoped that the new witness list would help members make informed decisions on the charges being faced by the affected members of parliament. He refuted claims by the opposition parties that they had not been able to call their own witnesses and instead said the issue had been “about the impact on the integrity and fairness when members who are supposed to rule on the charges get involved in calling witnesses.” Elaborating on the role of the witnesses, Mashile said the witnesses were to give evidence on instances where they played a role in engagement during the period prior to the suspension of the sitting.
The committee had suspended proceedings last week in order to give Hon. Ms Moonsamy enough time to submit to it evidence of why she did not attend the first meeting of the committee.
The twenty EFF members face suspension from the House if found guilty of the charges facing them. However, according to political analysts, the chink in their armor from being found guilty and the humility of serving the sentence will be worth more than the sentence itself. This would explain their pulling out from the process so quickly.