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Parliament considers sanctions against ‘defiant’ EFF MPs

EFF MPs heckled the president during his Q&A session with questions about Nkandla.

FILE. EFF members sang & marched around the Parliamentary grounds after being thrown out of Parliament earlier this year. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Parliament will be considering sanctions against defiant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) who caused President Jacob Zuma's question and answer session in the National Assembly on Thursday to be abandoned without him uttering a single word.

Speaker Baleka Mbete adjourned the sitting after two and a half hours of disruption and chants of ' pay back the money'.

This followed an earlier 90 minute suspension of proceedings after EFF MPs demanded Zuma to first say when he would repay some of the public funds spent on his private Nkandla home.

It was the president's first question and answer session since the release of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's controversial report that found Zuma not liable to repay a cent as all the features at his home, including the pool and cattle kraal, were for security purposes.

For the EFF it was about making the president account.

The party's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said, "The president doesn't take our Parliament seriously. The president comes here and makes a mockery of our questions and he's let go".

Malema said his party won't participate in a Parliament that seeks to cover up corruption.

"They brought Nhleko in an attempt to close the Nkandla matter. We are not going to allow this matter to die and natural death.

MOVING FORWARD

Parliament's presiding officers are weighing their options on the best way to deal with the EFF going forward.

This could include disciplinary proceedings, a re-look at the role of the Sergeant at Arms and Parliament's own rules.

Mbete was vague on Thursday on whether EFF MPs will face disciplinary action.

While Mbete at one point summoned the Sergeant at Arms to help remove an EFF MP, she said she did not consider calling the police to remove anyone.

"Under the circumstances, it didn't pose itself as an option."

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said they will have to look at Parliament's ability to enforce the rules.

"We must find ways that are according to the rules that will enable us to proceed with the work of the House."

Last month the Western Cape High Court ruled that police cannot arrest and remove MPs for the things they say in the House.

Mbete said Zuma is not likely to make up for Thursday's session.

There is now a question mark over whether Zuma will get to answer any other questions and how Parliament will do its work.

One of the questions the president was to answer was about how Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir slipped out of the country illegally.

OPPOSITION

Most opposition parties weren't happy.

The African Christian Democratic Party's Cheryllyn Dudley said, "We do object to being held to ransom by one party."

Freedom Front Plus Chief Whip Corné Mulder said, "We cannot complain and say that president does not come to Parliament to answer questions if we do not give him the opportunity to do so."

But Malema was defiant.

"We are going to ask the president the same question."

"The only winner today has been President Zuma and the executive who've once again got away from accountability. You don't have your answers, the people of South Africa don't have an answer, what is going on in this Parliament?"

It's a question many South Africans are still asking themselves.

Parliament will now be weighing up how to deal with those responsible and how to ensure the Nkandla question doesn't continue to put a spike in the wheels of its work.

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