EFF MPs who tried to stop Gordhan's speech are 'guilty of contempt of parliament', committee hears
Sixteen EFF MPs who tried to stop public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan from delivering a speech in parliament last year are guilty of contempt of parliament.
This is according to Ncumisa Mayosi, the advocate of the Cape Bar appointed by parliament to lead evidence in the hearing of the powers and privileges committee, which has been investigating the July 2019 incident. The MPs rushed the podium in an attempt to prevent Gordhan from speaking.
Mayosi found the affected MPs have also contravened the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, which sets out certain powers and privileges of MPs and regulates certain incidents relating to the functioning of parliament and provincial legislatures.
The 16 MPs are facing contempt of parliament charges for their role in the disruption, which saw Gordhan escorted away from the podium. The EFF MPs accused Gordhan of being “a constitutional delinquent” after adverse findings against him by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane regarding his role in the establishment of the so-called Sars “rogue unit”.
None of them attended their three-day disciplinary hearing in parliament last month.
“On a balance of probabilities, the evidence before the committee proves all of the charges against the affected members. The evidence before the committee has not been rebutted,” said Mayosi on Friday while presenting her closing submission to the committee.
“I submit that a proper case has been made for a finding that each affected member contravened the provisions of section 7A, 7B, and 7E of the act and accordingly each affected member is guilty of contempt of parliament in terms of section 13A and 13C of the act,” she added.
She told MPs that section (12)5 of the act stipulates that when the house finds a member guilty of contempt, the house may impose any of the penalties set out there, in addition to any other penalty.
She proposed that the committee deliberate on her submission and if it agrees with her guilty finding, it should invite the affected MPs to make representations regarding an appropriate penalty before the imposition of such penalty.
Mayosi said until the affected EFF MPs were removed from the house, they deliberately created serious disorder and disruption.
“They undermined the authority of the presiding officer and disrespected her.
“Their conduct constituted contempt of parliament in terms of section 13A and 13C of the act in that it improperly impeded or interfered with the minister's performance of his function or improperly impeded or interfered with the ability of the house to exercise its authority,” she said.
She said the consequences of the affected members' conduct was to prevent the business of the day from taking place.
“It was not possible for her [the presiding officer] to exercise her authority or for the business of the day to proceed with affected members conducting themselves in the manner that they did. Indeed after they were removed, everybody reverted to their seats and the business of the day proceeded,” said Mayosi.
The committee did not have the required quorum for it to deliberate and come to a finding. It will reconvene next year.