The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said Parliament must open a criminal case against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs if the Powers and Privileges Committee finds them guilty of misconduct.
In a statement issued on Monday by its Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone, the party welcomed Parliament’s decision to refer the EFF MPs’ conduct at last week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Committee.
EFF delayed the start of SONA by over an hour by objecting to apartheid last President FW de Klerk’s presence and demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa fires Pravin Gordhan as Public Enterprises Minister.
‘Refer the matter to NDPP’
In her statement, Mazzone said Parliament’s rules bar MPs from “improperly interfering with or impeding the authority or functions of the House, and creating or taking part in any disturbance within the precinct while the House is sitting.”
She said in terms of the Provincial Legislatures Act, such conduct would amount to contempt of Parliament, “an offence that carries a sentence of a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.”
“If the Powers and Privileges Committee therefore finds any EFF members in contravention of the Act, Parliament would be well within its rights to refer the matter to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, as provided for in section 12(6),” Mazzone said.
The party said EFF’s objections mainly revolve around individuals who belong to ethnic minority groups, adding that this has no place in South Africa’s democracy.
Pay cuts proposed
Mazzone concluded, “The DA will not stand for the unruly, disruptive, violent and racist behaviour displayed by the EFF during SONA.”
It’s unclear what sanctions EFF MPs would face should the Committee find them guilty of violating Parliament’s rules.
When Parliament resumed after EFF’s disruption on Thursday, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen proposed salary cuts.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise agreed, saying Parliament should look into the possibility of “touching the pockets” of MPs who engage in gross misconduct.
In a joint statement on Friday, Modise and Amos Masondo, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, also said MPs should consider “whether the existing joint rules sufficiently guard against disorderliness that has the potential to paralyse the business of the House.”
In 2014, Parliament suspended some EFF MPs without pay after their infamous “pay back the money” chants aimed at then President Jacob Zuma.