Presidency budget debate delayed as EFF calls for Ramaphosa to leave
The EFF charged three of its MPs to cause the disruption it promised as President Cyril Ramaphosa tried to start his budget debate on Thursday.
They were backed up by their leader Julius Malema and the rest of the party's caucus with regular interjections from the virtual platform.
Ramaphosa had barely started his speech when EFF MP Anthony Matumba, rising on a point of order, objected to Ramaphosa addressing the house as he faced serious allegations of crime after a complaint by former State Security Agency boss Arthur Fraser last week.
“My order is on the president. He is suffering from acquired intellectual intelligence deficiency syndrome,” said Matumba.
He said Ramaphosa should not be allowed to address parliament as he would “infect us with acquired intellectual intelligence deficiency syndrome”.
“He must sit down and not address us.”
Another EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini added: “We can't be addressed by a money-launderer and a criminal. The president is accused of serious crimes. We can’t be addressed by a person like this. A person with such huge accusations behind him.”
ANC MPs on the virtual platform joined in and rallied against EFF MPs.
The three EFF MPs who were physically attending the session were bundled out by parliament protection officers after 32 minutes of to-and-fro.
But this did not stop those who were connected virtually from disrupting the sitting.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu repeatedly referred to Ramaphosa as a money-launderer and “murderer of the people of Marikana”.
“There is not going to be withdrawal for referring to Cyril Ramaphosa as a money-launderer. There is no withdrawal that is going to take place because he is accused of serious crimes,” he said.
Several ANC MPs called on the speaker to throw out the disruptive MPs.
“I think it is logical if somebody keeps being irrelevant and repeats the same irrelevance. We request the speaker, with precision, to actually give those the penalty they deserve,” said ANC MP Mondli Gungubele.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said it was unfair for the house of 14 parties to be held to ransom by one.
“The one party that doesn’t want to be part of proceedings must be thrown out.”
National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula tried several times to exert her authority but with no luck. She said there was no transgression by Ramaphosa being in the house, and that the programme of parliament had been agreed to by all political parties.
“Today we are dealing with the budget of the presidency and I have invited the president to take the floor and address parliament,” she said.
She also cited a court ruling about the limits to the privilege of the freedom of speech, saying the Constitutional Court had found that the privilege of freedom of speech can never go as far as to give members a licence to disrupt the proceedings of parliament, that it may be hamstrung and incapacitated from conducting its business.
“According to the court this would detract from the very reason for the existence of parliament.”
It was after almost 70 minutes that all EFF microphones were muted and Ramaphosa could begin his address.