'PAY BACK THE MONEY' COURT CASE LOST BY EFFDate: 2018-01-30
The EFF lost its bid in the Western Cape High Court to set aside a guilty verdict delivered by Parliament's powers and privileges committee over 'Pay back the money' fracas on August 21, 2014.
The party also wanted the former ANC chairperson and National Assembly speaker, Baleka Mbete, removed from her job in Parliament. On the day in question, Jacob Zuma was addressed by members of the EFF – in their first year in parliament – and heckled him during question time. They shouted "Pay back the money", referring to the money that was spent on Zuma's Nkandla homestead, and in effect halted proceedings.
In an application to the High Court on December 14, 2014, the EFF secured urgent interim relief to interdict Mbete or anybody that was acting under her authority, from applying a decision taken by the National Assembly on November 27, 2014, to suspend EFF MPs without any pay.
Judge Dennis Davis granted the order, pending the determination of a second leg of the party's application, that related to the fairness and procedures followed when it was decided to suspend them and dock their pay.
The ANC agreed with the decision of the National Assembly that the MPs conduct constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, and therefore warranted the harshest transactions permitted in the act.
The powers and privileges committee found a total of 21 EFF MPs, including their leader Julias Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu, guilty of contempt of Parliament. 12 of the MPs were suspended by the committee without pay for between 14 and 30 days, and the others were fined 14 days' salary.
Malema and other EFF members repeatedly asked when, and how, Zuma would repay at least some of the R246m taxpayer-funded security improvements at his rural Nkandla estate. On August 26, 2014, Malema received a letter stating that the manner in which the EFF members had shown their dissatisfaction towards Zuma's reply had, among other things, impede the House's performance of its functions.
The EFF argued in court papers that the National Assembly had "failed to carry out or fulfil its obligation" under the Constitution to hold the executive accountable and to maintain an oversight, in relation to the Nkandla upgrades and the public protector's findings. The party also argued that Mbete failed to ensure the National Assembly executed its constitutional mandate.
The EFF said, at the time in its urgent application papers: "It is declared that Ms Baleka Mbete is not suitable to hold the position of speaker of the National Assembly. The National Assembly is directed to take appropriate steps to initiate proceedings for the removal of Ms Mbete as speaker of the National Assembley‚ forthwith."
The court ruling was welcomed by the Parliament's presiding officers on Monday.
"Parliament welcomes the affirmation of the correctness of its internal due processes and the court’s upholding of the sacrosanct constitutional principle of separation of powers," Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
"The court thus concluded that the allegations of inconsistency (sic) and bias appear to be unfounded.
"The court also confirmed the Tloamma judgment that there is no constitutional or statutory impediment to the speaker occupying a leadership position within her political party," Mothapo said.