JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Twenty five lawmakers from South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party could be suspended if found guilty of contempt of rules after disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s appearance in parliament last week.
“While the Powers and Privileges Committee is considering the matter, I am affording members concerned to give reasons why they shouldn’t be suspended,” National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said Tuesday.
EFF lawmakers disrupted Zuma last Thursday while answering questions in parliament.
Their leader Julius Malema asked Zuma when he would pay back money used in upgrading his rural home in Nkandla as demanded by the public protector.
EFF lawmakers, dressed in their red overall trade marks, then started taunting Zuma, shouting “pay back the money.”
Parliament was forced to adjourn and riot police were called in.
The upgrade of Zuma’s rural home was supposed to have cost the state some $2.5 million. But with lavish upgrades – including a swimming pool, cattle kraal and visitor’s center – the total cost skyrocketed to some $23 million.
Zuma has denied involvement in the construction and procurement phases of the renovation, adamantly refusing to pay back the money.
The cabinet’s Joint Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS), meanwhile, announced Tuesday they would introduce new measures to prevent any disruption of parliamentary sessions.
“We are the first line of defense of the republic of South Africa and its institutions,” Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa Ngakula said.
She said the new measures would allow the security cluster to intervene when the need arises.
Ngakula, however, did not divulge into the specifics of the new measures.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), for its part, was quick to vocalize concerns at the new security plans.
“The DA is gravely concerned at the implication of the statement by the JCPS, which appears to violate the most basic principle of separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution,” it said in a statement.
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