AFRICANGLOBE – Twenty EFF MPs have been found guilty of all charges stemming from their heckling of President Jacob Zuma over his theft of public money to renovate his Nkandla home, Parliament’s powers and privileges committee said on Wednesday.
Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu and his colleague Mpho Ramakatsa were found guilty of seven charges each, and EFF leader Julius Malema and the party’s spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of four charges each.
The rest of the group, who chanted “pay back the money” at Zuma in the National Assembly on August 21, were found guilty of between one and six charges, committee chairman Lemias Mashile told reporters.
“It has been a lengthy discussion on Monday that took us into the night. Eventually the committee reached a conclusion that the charges that the 20 members of the National Assembly are facing have been proved and these charges stick to them and they are found guilty on those charges.”
The charges ranged from refusing to obey an order by the Speaker to sit down or leave the chamber, to creating a disturbance in Parliament and interfering with the functions of the legislature.
Mashile said the EFF MPs would be given an opportunity on Friday to plead in mitigation of sentencing.
However, Malema made it plain his party refused to take any part in the disciplinary process in any way, in a submission read to the committee on October 7.
He threatened that the party would challenge in court any punishment imposed by the committee.
On Wednesday, the EFF MPs’ leadership could not immediately be reached for comment as they were in a sitting of the National Assembly.
Mashile said the committee reached the finding of guilty through “sufficient consensus”, but conceded it was not a unanimous decision. Opposition parties are on record as saying they did not agree.
He defended the committee’s decision not to call Speaker Baleka Mbete to testify, saying members believed it would be improper for her to give evidence as she had referred the matter to the committee.
Opposition party members on the committee had asked that she be called.
Mashile declined to set out the punishment that could be imposed on the EFF MPs, but according to the parliamentary rules it could include suspension from the legislature for 14 working days.