South Africa National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete yesterday adjourned the National Assembly before President Jacob Zuma could begin to respond to parliamentary questions after the Economic Freedom Fighters again raucously demanded that he pays back state funds spent on his Nkandla home.
EFF MPs refused to back down on their demand that President Zuma answers questions on when he is going to reimburse a portion of the R246 million used for upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, despite a determination by the Minister of Police that all the upgrades were of a security nature and the president was therefore absolved of any liability.
The EFF MPs chanted “pay back the money”, even after almost all other opposition parties agreed that the session should go ahead without President Zuma being made to answer questions on Nkandla.
“We can’t be steam-rolled towards commission of corruption by a sitting head of state,” said EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.
“We have seen many African states collapse because of the protection of one individual.”
But Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said while his party would fight for answers on Nkandla outside the assembly chamber, the sitting should have gone ahead.
“We fought very hard to get the president into this house today . . . and the only people who benefit when the house collapses is the executive and the president,” he said.
The ACDP’s Cheryllyn Dudley said parliament should not allow itself to “be held to ransom by one party”, referring to the EFF.
But EFF leader Julius Malema remained defiant, saying: “The President will have to be answerable to this House and this overprotection of the President has collapsed this House. You (Mbete) and the president render this institution useless.”
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi asked for a vote, but Malema insisted a majority vote would not stop them.
“Whether you vote or not, we are going to ask the questions,” he said.
“We are not voting cattles. We are not here to vote. We are here to debate (sic).”
EFF MPs then started chanting “pay back the money”, forcing Mbete’s hand.
“It is very clear that there are honourable members who want to block proceedings of the House. This shows disrespect to the people of South Africa who have voted for us,” she said while the chanting continued.
Mbete adjourned the House “until we take a different decision”, not elaborating on what this means. — African News Agency.