First witness called in EFF disciplinary hearing

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters disrupted proceedings in the National Assembly on Thursday while President Jacob Zuma was answering questions, forcing Speaker Baleka Mbete to suspend the house for a few minutes.

Parliament’s powers and privileges committee called its first witness in the disciplinary process against 20 EFF MPs on Wednesday.

Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, who is responsible for, among others, “ensuring the smooth running of the House”, took the stand.

Xaso will be asked to verify the authenticity of the video footage of events on August 21, when the EFF MPs disrupted the National Assembly during President Jacob Zuma’s question time, chanting “pay back the money” at him.

They face charges of disrupting and showing contempt for Parliament.

The footage shows Speaker Baleka Mbete ordering “members who are not serious” to leave the chamber. This was after EFF MPs repeatedly pointed out that Zuma had failed to answer a question on when he would heed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive to repay some of the R246 million in state funds spent on his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

She threatened to have them removed before adjourning proceedings.

Wednesday’s proceedings continued in the absence of the EFF MPs, after their leader Julius Malema led a walkout of the committee on Tuesday.

The EFF contends Mbete mishandled events on August 21.

At the start of the hearing on Tuesday, EFF MPs refused to plead to the charges. They risk suspension from the legislature for up to 14 working days if found guilty.



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