EFF Leaders - Floyd Shivambu and Julius Malema (in Red Overalls) Source: http://www.timeslive.co.za

On 21 August 2014 there was an interesting spectacle at the National Assembly of the South African Parliament when President Jacob Zuma was asked to account, about the public money he used for the upgrades at his Nkandla homestead, as required in the Public Protector’s report. President Zuma engaged in doublespeak and egg dancing as he is wont. But Economic Freedom Fighters Members of Parliament would not have any of that and parliament erupted into pandemonium as a consequence of President Zuma’s verbal gymnastics and prevarication.

On 22 August 2014, the SABC’s Morning Live television show played a clip in which Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete said that EFF Members of Parliament have no respect for parliament. That’s rich coming from the Chairperson of the ruling party. Does the ANC itself have respect for parliament?

The preamble and Section 181 and 182 of the Constitution clearly spell out the constitutional and legislative mandate of the Public protector. It reads in part thus: The Constitution establishes the Public Protector as one of the several independent institutions that are to strengthen and support democracy. The Public Protector is accountable to the National Assembly and must report on activities and performance of functions to the National Assembly at least once a year. No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the Public Protector. All organs of state are required by the Constitution to assist and protect the Public Protector and other constitutional institutions to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of these institutions. They are further forbidden from interfering with the functioning of the Public Protector and other constitutional institutions.

Unpacking some of the functions and duties of the Public Protector and other pertinent points would be in order.

On the issue of strengthening and supporting constitutional democracy, the question we must ask is how did the actions of EFF Members of Parliament weaken and undermine democracy by demanding answers from President Jacob Zuma only to be prevented from doing so by the partisan interjection of Speaker of Parliament? How do the actions of President Zuma strengthen and support democracy by ducking and diving? He has failed to uphold the constitution of this country by playing hanky-panky on the remedial action sought by the Public Protector. President Zuma must honour his constitutional obligations. If Parliament can’t bring pressure to bear on President Zuma to respect the jurisdiction of the Public Protector and hold him to account then it has no reason to sit. Suspending the seating of Parliament temporarily and calling in the police to Parliament, a place meant for debates, to protect a dishounarable and wayward Head of State exposed the dark underbelly of the ANC.

The Public Protector is accountable to the National Assembly and must report on its activities and functions to the National Assembly at least once a year. The Public Protector has fulfilled her constitutional and legislative duties on the Nkandla scandal on a shoe-string budget for that matter. What was left for President Jacob Zuma to do was to account to Parliament what happened to millions of Rands of the tax payers’ money as required or demanded by Members of Parliament, not only of the EFF but of other political parties as well. The ruling party can’t rely on its parliamentary majority (voting cattles), delaying tactics and the partisan Speaker of Parliament in order to circumvent issues of national importance while they are willy-nilly looting state coffers with impunity and brazen affront.

No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the Public Protector. This constitutional provision was clearly violated by those Cabinet Ministers who formed part of the security cluster – Nathi Mthethwa, Siyabonga Cwele and Jeff Radebe. They intimidated the Public Protector by threatening her with prosecution should she make her report of the Nkandla scandal public. They also attempted to approach the courts to seek a court interdict and accused her of leaking the report to the media all of which came to naught. One wonders if they are or were familiar with The Public Protector Act 23 of 1994.

The previous Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu constituted a Parliamentary Committee to look into the Public Protector’s report which was dissolved by ANC MP’s prior to the May 9 national elections perhaps with the hope that it will go away. Unfortunately it hasn’t gone away and has come back to haunt the ANC. The dissolution by the ANC in parliament of the committee that was constituted by former Speaker Sisulu is one of the delaying tactics employed by the ANC to buy time.

The Public Protector’s report was finally presented to the Special Investigating Unit apparently by Zuma. The SIU which had previously said it had completed its investigation into the Nkandla scandal somersaulted and reported that it hadn’t completed its investigations. When President Zuma was requested to respond to the Public Protector’s report he said he was waiting for the SIU to complete its investigations. The SIU is not a constitutional body; it is a statutory body whose head is appointed by Zuma himself. Moreover, the SIU has shown itself to be pliant and manipulable. Its findings in this matter are neither here nor there.

In another matter involving Zuma, the handing over of the spy tapes as ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal has not been honoured. There is stone-walling, especially by President Zuma. He has also instituted a bogus arms deal commission of inquiry whose outcome is predetermined. This is done at the tax payers’ expense. He undermines our intelligence. Not only is he undermining our intelligence but he is also cocking a snook at the legislative assembly, the judiciary and the executive. He has become a law unto himself. Given this state of affairs why should members of the parliamentary opposition observe parliamentary decorum?

By Sam Ditshego
The writer is a Senior Researcher at the Pan Africanist Research Institute (PARI). He can be contacted on 078 178 3623.

  • Tina Moleli

    We need to claim our space in public politics as Africanist.

    It is clear that majority system is abused by ANC .


  • In my previous articles I have pointed out the importance of the Speaker of Parliament being impartial (not taking sides). It is the institutional mandate of the Speaker to conduct parliamentary sittings impartially at all times as enshrined in this country’s constitution. The Speaker must also maintain the integrity and decorum of parliament. She/he must maintain order. The Speaker, Baleka Mbete failed to fulfill her institutional mandate and in my view she is not fit to hold that position. ANC-aligned organisations failed to realise that it was because of the Speaker’s failed leadership that parliament descended into chaos. Over the weekend these ANC-aligned organisations blamed Members of Parliament of the EFF for the chaos and threatened to challenge them claiming that democracy was under threat. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the ANC and its partial Speaker who constitute a threat to democracy. They are intolerant to opposing views. Threatening to attack EFF MP’s because of squabbles and disagreements that emanated from parliamentary debates is unlawful and puerile. The resolution of what caused the ruckus is that President Zuma must account to parliament how he is going to pay back the money spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead and Baleka Mbete must either resign or recuse herself as Speaker. She failed dismally to carry out her mandate.

    • On the 25th August, 2014 I wrote the above comment about the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Baleka Mbete. I wrote that in my opinion she was not fit to hold the position of Speaker and today (10 September, 2014) it was reported in the news that opposition parties in parliament are going to raise a motion of no confidence against her probably tomorrow. Readers can check my previous articles in which I wrote that the speaker is supposed to be impartial. I gave the Speakers in Britain and Canada as examples. The constitution says the Speaker must be impartial at all times. Even if there was no stipulation in the constitution that the Speaker should be impartial, common sense dictates that the Speaker should be impartial. She/he should act like a referee. The Speaker can’t be a referee and a player or judge and jury. In February 2004 I wrote in The Citizen nespaper that the ANC should depoliticise the civil service but all these advices fell on deaf ears. There are many things that I wrote before 1994 and after such as advising against such as, for example,accepting loans from the World Bank and IMF, relaxing exchange controls and giving the President too much power in the constitution. I was ignored.

      Opposition MP’s and perhaps the general public have no faith in Mbete. ANC MP’s can defeat the motion of no confidence against Mbete with their majority but that doesn’t resolve the problems parliament is experiencing. On the contrary it will exacerbate them.

  • Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Kebby Maphatsoe claimed that Advocate Thuli Madonsela was a CIA agent. Do readers of this web magazine remember that after its formation the ANC labelled the PAC as a creation of the CIA? This claim was repeated in a booklet published in the late 1990’s by the ANC’s Department of Publicity and Information headed by “Dr” Pallo Jordan. I rubbished the contents of that booklet in the Sowetan and no one from the ANC responded, not even “Dr” Jordan. The ANC has not recanted this silly claim. It’s a silly claim because to this day the US government doesn’t like the PAC. There are two books that expose former ANC leader Nelson Mandela as an MI6 agent and they are not discussed in this country’s media let alone within the ANC. Those books are The Big Breach (first edition) by Richard Tomlinson and MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations by Stephen Dorril. Maphatsoe should get those two books and read them before he accuses Advocate Madonsela of being a CIA agent. The ANC refused to reveal a list of ANC leaders who were spies for the Apartheid government. Mandela was given that list by leaders of the Apartheid government in the early 1990’s. It was widely reported that Mandela was given away by the CIA when he was arrested on his return from a trip abroad which included some African countries and Britain in 1961/62. Maphatsoe should first find out why Mandela was quiet about being sold out by the CIA before accusing Advocate Madonsela of being a CIA agent. Maphatsoe conflates the ruling party and the state. A cabinet Minister is not supposed to attack heads of Chapter Nine institutions irrespective of in what capacity s/he speaks. Advocate Madonsela should take this matter to court to show this Minister that labelling her a CIA agent is not like making sweeping generalisations against the PAC and getting away with it.

  • thebe

    just wanted to say that im new in this forum and i already learned so much my head is now getting mixed up, thanks for the information tjooo this forum is hectic one dont even need to go to school im stil in my 2os

  • The motion of no confidence against Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete tabled yesterday (16 Sept, 2014) in parliament vindicated me. When a Speaker fails to be impartial that’s what usually happens. If she and the ANC continue to be stubborn parliament will come to a stand still. It doesn’t matter or not the ANC forms the majority in parliament, the Speaker must be impartial as the constitution requires of her. The speaker’s mandate is constitutional as well as institutional. The following is the institutional mandate of the Speaker:

    Institutional Mandate
    As the leader of the House, the Speaker has the responsibility to:
    • Provide political leadership & strategic direction to the House
    • Exercise impartiality at all times in pursuance of these duties
    The impartiality of the Speaker is one of the prime values the integrity of South African Parliament is measured in terms of. The Speaker therefore has the responsibility of:
    • Being the custodian of this integrity
    • Preserving parliamentary integrity
    • The decorum of the members of the House consequently.
    • Serving as the Executive Authority for the House
    • Ensuring the smooth running of the House business and its Committees.
    • Ensuring the development and management of the House programme
    • Impartially presides over house meetings & maintaining order; and chairs the strategic parliamentary committee
    • Together with NCOP Chairperson jointly presiding over joint sittings.

    Is Baleka Mbete fulfilling her institutional mandate? Not at all. If she wants to be impartial she should begin by relinquishing her position of Chairperson of the ANC.

    • “It doesn’t matter whether or not the ANC is in the majority” was mistakenly left out in the previous comment.