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Inquiry probing EFF's conduct to meet in private

EFF leader Julius Malema and 24 EFF MPs risk being suspended for 14 days while the inquiry is underway.

FILE: Policemen break up a scuffle between EFF MPs and ANC members at Parliament on 21 August 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's Powers and Privileges Committee, tasked with investigating the conduct of 25 Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs), will meet today but it won't be open to the public.

EFF leader Julius Malema and 24 EFF MPs risk being suspended for 14 days while the inquiry is underway.

They're in trouble for disrupting President Jacob Zuma's question time in the National Assembly last month by chanting "pay back the money".

They were referring to the portion of taxpayers' money spent on upgrades to the president's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

The committee will meet today, but the actual inquiry is only expected to start next week.

Parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs says the committee's meeting won't be open to the public or the media.

"The default position is for the meeting to be held in private."

At the same time, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is due to respond to Malema's ultimatum that the EFF will go to court if she does not withdraw her threat to suspend him and his fellow MPs.

Malema initially gave Mbete until noon on Sunday, but her legal representative asked for an extension in a letter to the EFF's lawyers.

Mbete had to adjourn the sitting of the House on 21 August when EFF MPs refused to sit down, after Malema asked Zuma when he would pay back the money spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead.

At one point, riot police were sent in to the National Assembly to remove the EFF.

If suspended, EFF MPs will be barred from entering Parliament's precinct or taking part in its programmes without the speaker's permission.