The EFF’s disruption of proceedings in the National Assembly on Thursday was tantamount to bringing Parliament into disrepute, government said in a statement on Friday.
“Yesterday’s [Thursday] militant confrontation and attitude between MPs and supporters of political parties were not in the best interest of the country and were futile,” acting Government Communication and Information Service CEO Phumla Williams said.
“It was a display of anarchy and was not democratic. This is not a culture that we want to portray in Parliament or in any other institution or platform.”
Williams was responding to the disruption of questions to President Jacob Zuma.
Tensions rose after Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema objected to Zuma’s reply to a question about when he was going to repay part of the money spent on the R246 million security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete ordered the red overall-clad MPs out because they were “not serious” about proceedings.
But the MPs refused to leave, continuing to chant and shout slogans, forcing Mbete to adjourn proceedings.
“The parliamentary platform, which is made up of proportional representation through the polls, is for the use of all political representatives and yesterday’s [Thursday] offence actually deprived South Africans from interacting with President Jacob Zuma through their elected representatives,” said Williams.
Government supported a robust democracy, including questions to the executive, but insisted this should be done in a dignified manner.
“Parliament is one of many platforms that can be utilised to address or raise any concerns,” she said.
“However, we are all reminded that every institution has rules and protocols that need to be adhered to.”
The National Freedom Party on Friday joined government in criticising the disruption to parliamentary proceedings.
“The NFP condemns the disruption of Parliament and the party is worried about the fact that the dignity of the House is undermined,” said Chief Whip Nhlanhla Khubisa.
“The NFP is also worried about the fact that Parliament’s safety measures are not strong enough in the National Assembly and that unbecoming and unruly activities in the House might spill over into communities.” SAPA