Floyd Shivambu is the first member of Parliament to be referred to the institution’s newly constituted disciplinary committee – and the Economic Freedom Fighters members are furious.
The party’s chief whip has been taken to the committee for comments that he made in Parliament – usually protected under the legal immunity that comes with Parliamentary privilege – in 2016, when he told the ruling party that President Jacob Zuma was going to kill them.
“As the EFF, we unequivocally reject speaker Baleka Mbete’s move as deliberate suppression of free speech in Parliament,” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.
Ndlozi said Mbete violated the powers and privileges act by referring Shivambu to the committee for what he said during a debate. The referral sought to create fear on parliamentary debates about Zuma, the EFF said.
“The EFF is willing to go to the highest court in the country to defend free speech in Parliament.
“We demonstrated this when we won the court case regarding [the party’s leader] Julius Malema’s remarks that ‘the ANC government killed workers in Marikana’. We will also embarrass Mbete and her partisan rulings in relation to our [EFF’s] deputy president’s recent remarks,” Ndlozi said.
The EFF spokesperson said the party had repeatedly written to the speaker, asking her to refer Zuma to a disciplinary committee and to initiate impeachment proceedings against him, without success.
“She is biased and only protects Zuma. This is why the EFF has been calling for her removal from the beginning of the fifth democratic Parliament. Her decision to charge the [deputy president] of the EFF is legally invalid and it is tainted with bias-based, improper political motives.”