Parliament’s presiding officers have confirmed that the conduct of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs during Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committees.
In a statement on Friday, Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo also apologised “to the guests and the people of South Africa” for EFF’s conduct.
They said, “It is understandable that the people of South Africa would be highly concerned and disappointed by the conduct of certain members of Parliament.”
Call for a review of rules
They added that the Privileges Committees will consider the matter and make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament.
Modise and Masondo said, “Going forward, Members of Parliament will have to seriously consider and make a determination on whether the existing joint rules sufficiently guard against disorderliness that has the potential to paralyse the business of the House.”
EFF MPs forced a brief suspension of Parliament’s proceedings after raising constant points of oder and interjections for about an hour.
They demanded that apartheid’s last President FW de Klerk be asked to leave Parliament and that President Cyril Ramaphosa should fire Pravin Gordhan as Public Enterprises Minister.
Pay cuts on the cards?
When proceedings resumed, most political parties called for stern action to be taken against EFF MPs. Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen went as far as proposing pay cuts.
Modise agreed, adding that Parliament should look into the possibility of “touching the pockets” of MPs who engage in gross misconduct.
In 2014, Parliament suspended some EFF MPs without pay after their infamous “pay back the money” chants aimed at then President Jacob Zuma.
Meanwhile, in their statement on Friday, the presiding officers said political parties had submitted nominations for an independent panel that will consider if there is a prima facie case for the removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
“A total of 22 names were received. The Speaker will now consider the nominations and make a determination on the three names to constitute the Panel. The decision of the Speaker will be announced by the end of February,” they said.
Mkhwebane has moved to court in a bid to halt the process, claiming the rules Parliament adopted for her removal are unconstitutional.
Parliament has indicated that it will oppose Mkhwebane’s bid and proceed with the process in the meantime.