South Africa Parliament sanctions nine Economic Freedom Fighters lawmakers

Africa Science News

South African opposition MPs are facing punishment for uttering words deemed insulting and defamatory to President Cyril Ramaphosa nearly two years ago.

The Powers and Privileges Committee of Parliament (Parly) has charged a group of legislators with contempt of Parliament for calling the President a ‘money launderer’ during a House sitting.

The nine members of Parliament (MPs) from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were found guilty after refusing to withdraw the remarks made during a presidency budget speech in June 2022.

The Parly decided to proceed with a guilty verdict after deliberating on the matter and hearing arguments from both the EFF and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The hearing into the disruptions by the EFF was concluded on Thursday after delays in January.EFF lawmakers found guilty of contempt of Parliament include Mothusi Montwedi, Sinawo Tambo, and Natasha Ntlangwini. Parly recommended to the National Assembly to suspend them without remuneration for a month.

EFF members Babalwa Mathulela, Paulnita Marais, Anthony Matumba, and Naledi Chirwa were slapped with a fine equivalent to 30 days’ salary for their actions.

Tseko Mafanya and Yoliswa Yako got fines equivalent to 15 days’ salary. An MP in South Africa earns about $5,300 per month.

The MPs are also required to apologise to the President and Parliament.

The nine legislators are the third group of the ‘red berets’ to be found guilty in just a few months. The committee also found two EFF MPs guilty of contempt for disrupting Parliament in August 2022 and the 2023 State of the Nation Address (Sona).

EFF leader Julius Malema and Mr Tambo were served with a month’s suspension for disrupting last year’s SONA.

However, EFF spokesperson Leigh-Ann Mathys said the party is not bothered nor intimidated by the sanctions. She also stated that the committee’s actions are clear proof that the ruling party, the ANC, uses its majority to suppress the opposition.

“These sanctions once again prove how the ANC utilises its majority in Parliament to not only cover up corruption but equally punish those who exercised their duties of holding the executive accountable on behalf of the people of South Africa,” she said.

“For the ruling party to sanction the opposition ahead of provincial and national elections for expressing political speech against their President in a democratic Parliament has the hallmarks of dictatorship.”

The EFF spokesperson also added that ANC’s actions show that the party is out of touch with reality.

“The ANC is on its final knees, and one of the characteristics of a dying ruling party is the suppression of opposition voices. The 29th of May 2024 is an opportunity to remove those who play a key role in the movement of illicit financial flows in South Africa, money laundering and the destruction of our economy, and leading the charge of money launderers is Cyril Ramaphosa.”

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