PARLIAMENT – ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina on Friday condemned the heckling of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan by members of Parliament (MPs) from the EFF, as did a number of civic organisations.
"This uncouth behaviour by EFF members of Parliament is not only repulsive but is an insult to South Africans from all walks of life who have entrusted members of Parliament with the mammoth task of making laws that govern our sovereign republic, and with the immense responsibility of conducting parliamentary oversight, over the executive arm of government," Majodina said.
She added that the EFF’s conduct showed that it had no respect for Parliament as a forum for the exchange of ideas through civilised argument.
"Anarchism can never be a substitute for vibrant and superior ideas. What ensued yesterday was not only an attack on legitimate democratic institutions like Parliament but an attack on the values our country is founded on."
The EFF’s Sam Matiase rose to interrupt Gordhan as the minister began delivering his department’s budget vote speech in the legislature’s room E249 on Thursday afternoon.
Matiase and fellow EFF MPs argued that they would not allow the minister to speak as he was a "constitutional delinquent". The conduct resulted in presiding officer Grace Baroto calling on protection officers to physically remove the party’s members from the chamber.
Gordhan remained quiet throughout the fracas, but in his speech accused the far-left party of "fascist populism" and defending the camp of those implicated in state capture, the vast scandal that robbed the state coffers of billions through improper procurement at the country’s state-owned enterprises.
The standoff between the respected minister and the EFF has intensified after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Gordhan had flouted the law and should be disciplined by President Cyril Ramaphosa for the establishment of an intelligence unit with the South African Revenue Service.
The narrative that the minister acted improperly has been discredit by a number of investigations and inquiries but was nonetheless successfully pursued by the EFF in the form of a complaint to the public protector.
Gordhan has denied any wrongdoing and has launched court action to have Mkhwebane’s findings set aside.
On Friday, the Association of Political Detainees and Johannesburg Against Injustice (JAI) also vigorously defended the minister and condemned the EFF’s conduct.
"It will go down in the annals of history as the worst display of anti-democratic behaviour by a party in our democratic Parliament," said JAI.
African News Agency (ANA)