Opposition parties condemn EFF disciplinary hearing procedure

Photo_Web_MalemaShivambu_081014

EFF leader Julius Malema makes his representation to Parliament's powers and privileges committee in Cape Town. Floyd Shivambu (L) is next to Malema.

PARLIAMENT - The disciplinary hearing into the conduct of 20 Economic Freedom Fighters MPs was procedurally flawed, opposition parties said on Tuesday.

"The opposition parties represented on the Powers and Privileges Committee (PPC) -- the DA, United Democratic Movement, and Inkatha Freedom Party -- reject the PPC report on the events of 21 August," Democratic Alliance MP Annelie Lotriet told journalists at Parliament.

"The PPC investigation was little more than a political hatchet job by the ANC aimed at achieving a predetermined outcome."

A report highlighting the flaws in the probe was released on Tuesday.

While the EFF was not involved in drafting the report, the party was in agreement with most of its contents.

The African Christian Democratic Party and Congress of the People were also in agreement with the views contained in the report.

"In short, we do not support the findings of the committee as the ANC has again used its majority to abuse the rules of Parliament to suit its political agenda," said Lotriet.

"The process followed during this investigation was completely flawed. It was not fair and did not allow for an impartial investigation."

The fact that the PPC did not consider evidence submitted by EFF leader Julius Malema before coming to a guilty finding against him and 19 other EFF MPs was cause for concern, according to the opposition parties.

On August 21 the EFF MPs disrupted question time in the National Assembly by chanting "pay back the money" at President Jacob Zuma and refused to leave when ordered out of the chamber.

They were apparently unhappy with Zuma&39;s replies to questions about his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, where R246 million of taxpayers&39; money had been spent on upgrades.

The parties believed there was clear bias on the part of the African National Congress majority represented on the PPC.

"No formal legal opinion was produced to explain how a majority-ANC committee could reasonably constitute an investigation that was free of ‘reasonable apprehension of bias&39;," said Lotriet.

"We do believe that there is a reasonable apprehension of bias, which means that the investigation did not comply with section 12 (3)(a) of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act."

The PPC report was meant to be tabled in the National Assembly for adoption on Tuesday, but it appears it has now been postponed indefinitely.

Last Monday the PPC officially adopted the report recommending the suspension without pay for 30 days of 12 EFF MPs, including Malema and Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu. This group was found guilty of between four and seven charges of contempt of Parliament.

Another group of EFF MPs were found guilty on two charges each of contempt of Parliament, and face suspension for 14 days without remuneration.

It was recommended that the rest of the 20 MPs, who were found guilty of one charge each of contempt of Parliament, be ordered to submit a verbal apology to the House.

Lotriet said opposition parties had objected to the debate taking place on Tuesday during a meeting of the chief whips&39; forum last week.

"They objected to the matter being on the order list for today [Tuesday]," Lotriet said.

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