'EFF MPs' conduct in National Assembly deliberate'

Randall van Voore says the severity of the misconduct shown by EFF MPs warrants the most serious of penalties.

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

CAPE TOWN - A legal adviser to Parliament's Power and Privileges Committee has described the conduct of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) as deliberate and intentional.

The MPs were this week found guilty of misconduct after heckling President Jacob Zuma during a question and answer session in the National Assembly in August.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had to ajourn the sitting of the house.

The chanting was a reference to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on the R246 million spent on upgrades to Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Madonsela's report said Zuma had "benefitted unduly" from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.

Arguments in aggravation and mitigation of sanctions against the MPs were heard today.

Advocate Randall van Voore says the severity of the misconduct shown by the EFF MPs warrants the most serious of penalties.

He adds the committee may impose one or a combination of penalties.

This includes a formal warning, an order to apologise, a fine or the suspension of a member.

"I can think of few more serious examples of contempt than creating or taking part in a disturbance of the house."

Van Voore says evidence suggests while the guilty parliamentarians understood the rules of the house, they still failed to obey the speaker.