Parliament’s powers and privileges committee had acceded to an Economic Freedom Fighters’ request to confirm whether all 20 MPs had read, understood, and had no objection to the charges against them.
The request by party leader Julius Malema came after he interrupted initiator Darryl van Voore in reading out each of the seven charges against EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu.
The MPs face charges of disrupting and displaying contempt for the National Assembly after shouting “pay back the money” at President Jacob Zuma while he was answering questions on the Nkandla controversy on August 21.
However, as proceedings got under way after acceding to the request, the EFF MPs objected to the shortened proceedings, fearing they might not be able to make representations.
Committee chairman Lemias Mashile feared conflict over the charges was becoming a “crisis”.
“We acceded to a proposal that was time-saving but it looks like it has put us to the rocks,” Mashile said.
Van Voore asked if he could make a proposal, which was agreed to.
He said as far as he understood the agreement was that members would be asked if they understood the charges, then Malema would make representations on behalf of all members.
“If that is the correct understanding of the proposal, then I wish to agree there is no crisis,” Van Voore said.
He proceeded to ask each member if they had read the charges, understood them, and did not have an objection to the manner in which the charges were being put to them.
The MPs risk being suspended from the National Assembly for up to 14 working days if found guilty.