Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu took to Twitter to share footage taken by News24 showing the party’s outburst in parliament, which saw them threaten Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and which resulted in the entire EFF caucus being ejected.
In his caption, Shivambu notes that the Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazzone was the first to get up in an attempt to defend Gordhan.
It has been reported that DA chief whip John Steenhuisen had taken to the lectern to stand in front of Gordhan for protection, which resulted in Gordhan saying “no, no, no, they must touch me. They must touch me”.
Now it seems Shivambu has analysed the footage and determined that Mazzone was the first up on her feet to defend the minister.
He also acknowledged Steenhuisen’s role, saying he was “running around like a headless chicken”.
The EFF second-in-command also tried in his tweet to characterise the two DA politicians’ defence of the minister against a possible physical attack on the part of the red berets as tacit support of the so-called “rogue unit”.
He alleges in his tweet that rather than simply defending Gordhan in parliament, Mazzone was defending the “rogue unit”. He also suggests in the tweet that the two DA politicians “even deny” that the rogue unit exists.
Steenhuisen was vocal in his opposition to the EFF’s “thuggish and undemocratic behavior” following the incident. Shivambu’s assertion that he was somehow defending the “rogue unit” does, however, appear to be a stretch.
In fact, the DA leader took to Twitter to respond to someone who said he was “the first to speak” in Gordhan’s defence by maintaining, “I didn’t speak in his defence, I spoke in defence of parliament.”
Mazzone, while seemingly ready to defend the minister as shown in the footage, is also unlikely to have been defending the “rogue unit” or even Gordhan’s politics, as she later said in the same parliamentary session that she believes the entire Department of Public Enterprises is a “superfluous entity” that should not exist.
At the beginning of the same speech in parliament she told Gordhan that she wanted to show the EFF how “one disagrees as a democrat”, accusing the party of “fascist” behaviour.
The subject of the “rogue unit” is currently a topic of great debate, with opinions on it fiercely divided.
The existence of a “rogue unit” at Sars was believed to have been debunked after The Sunday Times retracted several articles on it following a ruling from the media ombudsman in 2015.
Then, at the Nugent inquiry looking into alleged misconduct at Sars, it was determined that a unit called the High Risk Investigative Unit did exist but operated legally, with former head of compliance at Sars Gene Ravele saying it actually did important work.
However, a report recently released by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that the intelligence unit nicknamed the “rogue unit” did exist and functioned illegally, further finding that Gordhan’s conduct relating to it violated the constitution.
According to the public protector, the Nugent inquiry’s finding did not constitute one made by a constitutional body. She added that while her office conducted a full investigation into the matter, retired judge Robert Nugent’s commission did not.
Gordhan’s lawyers launched an urgent application to interdict the implementation of her remedial action, and will be taking the report on review. An ugly public spat is ongoing between himself and Mkhwebane.
Following the release of the report, Piet Rampedi, one of the journalist who wrote the Sunday Times “rogue unit” stories and resigned from the newspaper following their retraction, has made accusations about an alleged cover-up of the report on the part of Gordhan and several Tiso Blackstar employees. The media company has said they will take legal action against him in response.
I didn’t speak in his defense, I spoke in defense of Parliament.
— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) July 11, 2019