Nkandla drama won’t go away

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema speaks, 3 July 2014, at a party press conference in Johannesburg. Picture: Michel Bega

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema speaks, 3 July 2014, at a party press conference in Johannesburg. Picture: Michel Bega

Chaotic scenes played out in Parliament again yesterday after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs refused to let the Nkandla saga go. Speaker Baleka Mbete had to adjourn the House following disruptions of President Jacob Zuma’s parliamentary answering session.

The red overall-clad MPs were led by party leader Julius Malema when they unleashed chaos. They demanded to know when Zuma would pay back some of the R246 million spent on the security upgrades to his Nkandla private home.

Mbete had to adjourn the session after the MPs chanted: “Pay back the money.”

The National Assembly sitting, which started at 2pm, was adjourned after less than 15 minutes when Mbete summoned party chief whips into a committee room to decide on a way forward.

This was after the EFF tried but was refused from asking about Nkandla as it was not on the question paper. The disruption was the third in less than a year; it also occurred on August 21, 2014 and February 12 this year.

The EFF MPs kept on chanting, even after almost all other opposition parties agreed that the session should go ahead without Zuma being made to answer questions on Nkandla.

“We can’t be steamrolled towards commission of corruption by a sitting head of state,” said EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.

“We have seen many African states collapse because of the protection of one individual.”

But DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said while his party would fight for answers on Nkandla outside the assembly chamber, the sitting should have gone ahead.

“We fought very hard to get the president into this house today … and the only people who benefit when the House collapses is the executive and president,” he said.

But, Malema remained defiant, saying: “The president will have to be answerable to this House and this overprotection of the president has collapsed this House. You [Mbete] and the president render this institution useless.”

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi asked for a vote, but Malema insisted a majority vote would not stop them.

“Whether you vote or not, we are going to ask the questions,” he said.

EFF MPs then started chanting “pay back the money”, forcing Mbete’s hand.

“It is very clear that there are honourable members who want to block proceedings of the House. This shows disrespect to the people of South Africa who have voted for us,” the Speaker said while the chanting continued.

After constant argument and repeated chants from the EFF to “pay back the money”, Baleka said: “There are those that have come to this parliament to undermine the will of the people of this country.

“At this point … we can’t go on like this. I would like the House to be adjourned until we take a different decision.”


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