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EFF disciplinary: Details of tension emerge

Details of tense talks on the day Zuma was heckled in Parliament have emerged in the EFF’s hearing.

Policemen break up a scuffle between EFF MPs and ANC members at Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, 21 August 2014. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - Details of tense behind-the-scenes talks on the day President Jacob Zuma's Parliamentary question-time descended into chaos have emerged in the disciplinary hearing against 20 Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs).

Evidence given on Monday night revealed that National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete unilaterally decided to adjourn proceedings after EFF MPs challenged the president to pay back the money Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says he owes for lavish upgrades to his Nkandla home.

The African National Congress (ANC)'s deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude told Parliament's Powers and Privileges Committee that all parties agreed the session should continue once the red berets had been removed from the house.

Instead, Mbete reconvened the sitting only to formally adjourn it.

Dlakude says a crisis meeting of party chief whips agreed the 21 August sitting should continue once police had removed EFF members.

"We spoke in one voice of which we agreed that we cannot be held at ransom by a group of people or members of the EFF."

But she says Mbete had already decided to adjourn the chaotic sitting because she didn't want the EFF MPs forcibly removed from the chamber.

Dlakude says she was comfortable with the decision, as the chief whips could only advise and not dictate to the speaker.

Mbete is not on the witness list for the hearings.

Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip John Steenhuisen will testify when they resume at 5pm today.