Mbete out to hit EFF in the pocket

Parliament's big guns will continue their heated power struggle in the House at 2pm today as the ANC gets ready to take away the money of the EFF.

National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete has called MPs from across the country to fly into Cape Town at a cost of millions of rands for a meeting tomorrow which the ANC only wants to last for 25 minutes.

Except for the report of parliament’s powers and privileges committee, which recommends that 20 EFF MPs lose a month’s income for the “Pay Back The Money” incident of August 21, there are only four innocuous reports on oversight visits on tomorrow’s draft agenda.

But in a tense closed meeting yesterday afternoon lasting two hours, the united opposition refused to agree to the ANC’s plan, and demanded that President Jacob Zuma answer questions from MPs, as he is obliged to do four times a year according to the rules of parliament, but has done only once this year.

The ANC refused to put forward a date for Zuma to answer questions, all the while denying vehemently, nevertheless, that he was disobeying the rules.

Representatives of the ANC and the opposition deadlocked, and the meeting was dissolved after two hours.

The fight will now spill over to a meeting of the National Assembly programming committee, which will take place this afternoon, and at which an almighty row is expected.

Regarding tomorrow’s meeting, only five minutes have been set aside to seal the EFF’s fate, and five minutes for each of the oversight visits.

Ironically, MPs belonging to various portfolio committees will have to interrupt serious oversight visits countrywide to fly to Cape Town for the short meeting, which follows the ANC’s decision to terminate Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s agreement with the opposition to make parliament function better.

Losing a month’s income will hit EFF MPs – some of whom come from poverty-stricken backgrounds – hard. Although the ANC wants to finalise the powers and privileges report regarding the EFF in five minutes, expectations are that the opposition will put up a spirited resistance.

The DA has already finalised a detailed alternative report in which its MPs Annelie Lotriet and Shahid Esau, both of whom attended the hearings, provide a strongly worded critique of a process they claim was biased and procedurally fatally flawed.

The EFF will hold a press conference at Free State University in Bloemfontein today at which it is expected to announce that its first elective conference will take place at the Free State University campus next month.

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