National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete said she will refer Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s remarks to the parliament “rules committee for perusing”. She said the matter required “serious consideration”.
On Tuesday, the speaker ruled that the speech be expunged from parliament records. However, Cope’s Deidre Carter questioned why Malema’s remarks should be expunged from the Hansard. He further demanded to know the rule that backed up Mbete’s order.
Reacting before the debate kicked off on Wednesday, Mbete said that Malema’s speech would be expunged from records because they are “unparliamentary”.
Making a reference from a 2009 sitting and international parliaments on why the speech should be expunged, she said Malema’s speech had personal remarks about President Jacob Zuma. She condemned Malema for vomitting “private and personal” matters relating to the president.
She maintained that in some jurisdictions, the speaker is entitled to make such a decision.
“It is my view, ladies and gentlemen, that if the speaker was not able to do this, it would seriously undermine the image and effectiveness of Parliament to function as the Constitution intended. I will, in consultation with the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, refer the principle of the matter to the rules committee,” Mbete said.
She reminded MPs that “the presiding officers are the guardians of the rights and privileges of members.” She also referenced a ruling in the fourth parliament which said that members should avoid the use of “offensive and unbecoming language”. She warned members of parliament not to flout freedom speech rights of other members.
Mbete made it known that it is left for parliament presiding officers to make sure that “no scandalous or improper matter” comes out on printed paper.
Before the debate kicked off on Wednesday, she said that she received a letter from EFF asking her to withdraw her statement that Malema’s speech be expunged from parliament Hansard.
We will recall that on Tuesday, EFF leader had refused to debate about what he called an “illegitimate” president’s State of the Nation address (SONA). He delivered a scathing speech on Presient Zuma’s so-called errors in judgement. Malema did not spare Zuma’s personal life either.
“We do not recognise him due to his incapacity, lack of direction, association with criminal elements, unaccountability”
“This is the man who knowingly had sex with a HIV positive woman and later explained to a court that a shower will lessen the chances of contracting HIV. We are now a laughing-stock of the world.”
“This is a man who knowingly impregnated a friend’s child, knowing he had other wives at home. This is another sign of your misjudgements,” Malema said.
Before taking his leave, Malema also apologized to former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela for having helped Zuma to come into power, saying he was misled by Zuma. After his speech, Malema led a walkout of EFF Members of Parliaments from the debate center.