The controversial statement made by EFF’s chief whip Floyd Shivambu put the party at loggerheads with the parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete with the EFF accusing her of attacking freedom of speech by referring Shivambu to the disciplinary committee.
Citing Powers‚ Privileges and Immunities Act and Section 58 (1) (b) of the Constitution‚ which state that MPs cannot be punished for statements made in any of its bodies, the Freedom fighters condemned Mbete for deciding to refer their party chief whip the parliament’s disciplinary committee for remarks he made in Parliament about President Jacob Zuma in November 2016.
Speaker Baleka Mbete announced to MPs on Thursday, that the remarks made by Shivambu during the November motion of no confidence in Zuma would be referred to the disciplinary committee.
Shivambu reportedly told ANC members that they would be arrested and killed by Zuma if they ventured into supporting the motion of no confidence in him.
During his speech, Shivambu reportedly referred to President Jacob Zuma as a “post-colonial disaster” who like some other African dictators, seek to enrich his families and to undermine the rule of law; prosecute and persecute their political opponents‚ including members of his own party.
He said when Zuma sees that everything has failed, he would assassinate his opponents.
“Before you know it‚ he would have captured everything. After he has dealt with everyone else‚ he is going to arrest you. He is going to arrest all of you‚ he is going to lock you up‚ he is going to kill you. He has nothing to lose now,” he told the ANC MPs.
The disciplinary committee was therefore asked to investigate any alleged misconduct by a member and report back to the speaker, following the Parliament’s new rules adopted in 2016.
Reacting to this, the EFF said Mbete’s decision was an attack on free speech and an attempt to silence all forms of criticism against President Jacob Zuma.
“As the EFF‚ we unequivocally reject the speaker’s move as deliberate suppression of free speech in Parliament. It is also an attempt to silence criticism of Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle.
“The speaker‚ by referring the EFF DP [deputy president Shivambu] to the DC [disciplinary committee] for what he said during a debate violates the Powers‚ Privileges and Immunities Act and seeks to create fear on parliamentary debates on Zuma,” the EFF said in a statement released on Thursday night.
The party said it would use all its powers to defend free speech in ‘the highest court in the land’‚ if necessary.
“We demonstrated this when we won the court case regarding CIC [commander-in-chief] 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 deputy president’s recent remarks,” the party further stated.