Two EFF MPs who were part of a group that stormed the stage while Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered a speech will be suspended without pay, while others are in for heavy fines.
With the exception of the EFF, all Parliament’s Powers and Privileges Committee members agreed to the penalties against the MPs involved.
Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi, brought in as an external initiator, briefed the committee on Wednesday on the charges against the party.
“The conduct of the affected members was destructive of orderly and robust debate and engagement. It is respectfully submitted that the conduct had about it the hallmarks of a designed, concerted and carefully coordinated effort to, inter alia, disrupt the proceedings of the House,” she said.
Mayosi said that in 2014, EFF MPs Nokulanga Primrose Sonti and Nthako Sam Matiase were found guilty of being in contempt of Parliament.
They were part of a group of 20 EFF MPs who were found guilty on charges of heckling former president Jacob Zuma over his Nkandla home. At the centre of the charges were the disruptions the group had caused.
“In the present proceedings, as a result of their conduct on 11 July 2019, they have been found guilty once again of the same charge. In the case of Matiase, the committee found him guilty of seven charges, and Honourable Sonti has been found guilty of five charges.”Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Jeffrey Abrahams
She added: “Each one of those charges and findings of contempt is serious. It is submitted that the multiple and deliberate acts of serious contempt warrant an appropriately serious penalty.”It is further submitted that anything short of a sufficiently serious penalty will signal that rules of the National Assembly, which rules the members of the House collectively impose upon themselves, may be ignored, observed only in the breach and transgressed without fear or concern of serious consequence.
She recommended the suspension of Sonti and Matiase without remuneration for a period not exceeding 30 days.
“This will apply whether or not the National Assembly or any of its committees is scheduled to meet during that period,” she said.
Twelve other EFF MPs were also found guilty on similar charges to that of Matiase’s.
These 12 members faced five charges of contempt of Parliament: Khanya Ceza, Makosini Chabangu, Thokozane Langa, Brian Madlingozi, Mathibe Mohlala, Mothusi Montwedi, Thembi Msane, Dumisane Mthenjani, Nazier Paulsen, Henry Shembeni, Annacleta Siwisa, Lorato Tito, Ntokozo Hlonyana and Rosina Komane had each been found guilty of seven contempt charges. Their charges included deliberately engaging in conduct that created serious disorder or disruption in the chamber when they crossed the floor during the proceedings.
“Taken individually, each one of these charges is serious. Contempt in the form of creating or participating in a disturbance, of which these members have been found guilty, is in and of itself a very serious form of contempt and would warrant a sufficiently serious penalty or penalties,” Mayosi said.
Mayosi recommended a fine not more than the equivalent of one month’s salary and allowances.
Earlier this month, the EFF set out to challenge the constitutionality of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act. This legislation was used to charge their members.
According to committee chairperson Philly Mapulane, the application was dismissed. An appeal was also later dismissed and ultimately abandoned.
The committee was expected to formally adopt its decision in April.