Last Thursday Julius Malema and the 24 Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) announced they had received letters from the Speaker of the House, Baleka Mbete, to inform them of their possible suspension. The letters asked the EFF MPs to explain to the speaker why they should not be suspended for a period of 14 days following their disruptive behaviour in parliament the previous Thursday.
This is an excerpt from Julius Malema’s full response to his letter of suspension below:
You have requested that I should supply you with reasons why I should not be suspended for the events which took place during questions to the president on the 21 August 2014.
In your letter referred to above where you allege the following:
1. I improperly interfered with or impeded the exercise or the performance by the House of its authority or functions;
2. improperly interfered with the performance by a member Of his or her functions as a member; or
3. I have created a disturbance within the precincts of Parliament while the House was meeting.
You have further alleged that wilfully failed or refused to obey Rules and orders of the House, interfered with the performance by the speaker and other members of their constitutional functions and ultimately impeded the House’s ability to conduct and conclude its business.
Your allegations remain vague and vexatious as they not clearly state the specific conduct which contravenes the provisions of section 7 of Act NOA of 2004 to which you refer.
However, I will attempt to respond to the best of my ability and knowledge of the events as they occurred on the day in question. Presumably it will cover the so-called conduct you are referring to.
As far as I can recall, the events of the day started with a question I posed to the President On the report of the Public Protector. I wanted to know when the President would pay back the money as recommended by the Public Protector.
The President failed to answer my question to the satisfaction of some of members of Parliament.
When I tried to make a follow up you then ordered me to get seated which I complied. Other members of EFF tried to make a follow up and you refused them such opportunity.
When the Honourable members of the Parliament insisted with their points of order you also insisted making the following utterances, “Honourable members please get seated”.
You made such utterances over and over again without necessarily referring to any specific individual.
Honourable Speaker, you further made utterances to the effect that you will call Sergeant in Arms to come and remove all the members of the parliament who were not serious and interested to the business of the day.
This was another confusion you created to the House.
When the Honourable members insisted in raising their points of order you then suspended the proceedings of the House and said security will come and remove members who are not serious about the business of the day.
After the suspension of the proceedings we then chanted “Pay Back Money” and the Sergeant in Arms asked us not to make your job difficult.
Whilst we were chanting “Pay Back Money” which was during suspension of the proceedings, members of the ruling party on the Other hand also broke into a song, “Awelethe Umshini Warni”.
You then later came back to reconvene the House and there was order and even when you made announcement for Honourable members to vacate there were no disruptions.
When other Honourable members of the House decided to leave the House decided to remain behind because there was no need for me to leave the House.
I wish to advise you that as per your announcement there was no security that came to request me to leave the House. I also wish to put it on record that I never at any stage refused to obey rules and orders of the House as you so allege.
As the presiding officer you never referred nor ordered me to take my seat or leave the House.
On more than two occasions you made the following utterances, “Honourable members please get seated”. At no stage did you refer to me in person.
You will know it better than me that the Rules do not provide for a platform to be addressed as a group but as individuals, particularly on matters of misconduct. During your intervention on the day in question, you kept referring to a group of Honourable members who are not serious about the business of the day and as such I never thought you were referring to me for I can never be addressed to as a group. You continued to do so even when you were asked as to whom are you specifically referring.
You will also know better than me that Rules of the National Assembly do not apply when proceedings are suspended.
Thus, in case you are referring to the chanting Of “pay Back the Money” since your letter is not very clear as to what you are referring to, this occurred when the House was suspended and therefore could not be referred to as unparliamentarily.