Reactions have poured in after the EFF was thrown out of Parliament for disrupting Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget vote speech.
The red berets attempted to halt the Minister of Public Enterprises address, referring to him as a “constitutional delinquent” following the release of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s recent report slamming Gordhan for alleged misconduct, which includes involvement in the infamous SARS rogue unit.
They approached the speaker’s podium and were set to square off with Gordhan before Parliament security stepped in and escorted them out of the National Assembly building.
Following the incident, ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina issued a statement on behalf of Parliament condemning the EFF’s conduct.
“This uncouth behaviour by EFF Members of Parliament is not only repulsive but is an insult to South Africans from all walks of life who have entrusted Members of Parliament with the mammoth task of making laws that govern our sovereign Republic,” she wrote.
She went on to commend Gordhan for “practising restraint in the face of overt provocation” and called for the EFF to face consequences for their behaviour.
“We call upon the relevant organs of the institution to impose the strongest appropriate sanction against EFF Members of Parliament, to ensure that there isn’t a repeat of such repugnant behaviour.”
Further reactions poured in on Friday.
Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, took to Twitter to call EFF members “bullies” and “thugs” and convey his support to Gordhan.
“Comrade #PravinGordhan’s sin is fighting corruption in the SOEs (State Owned Enterprises). He has stepped on the corrupt toes of EFF cronies. We stand with you comrade Pravin, you are not alone .”
The Association of Political Detainees (APD) which includes former members of the UDF, The South Africa Youth Congress (SAYCO), Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and the National Education Union of South Africa (NEUSA) implied that the “attack” on Gordhan was unconstitutional.
“The scenes we have witnessed in Parliament yesterday as instigated by the EFF does not amount to freedom of speech and tolerance as Comrade Gordhan was threatened and temporarily prevented from making his speech,” they said in a statement.
Community organisation Johannesburg Against Injustice called the disruption “anti-democratic behaviour” in a statement released on 12 July.
“It exposes the true nature of the EFF as an organisation that has no respect for constitutionality and the rights of people,” it read.
The statement goes on to mention the party’s long track record of “reckless and violent behaviour” including threats made to Gordhan and his family members and respective racist attacks and death threats against journalists Adriaan Basson and Karima Brown.
“Repeat offenders are only emboldened when there are no consequences for the actions,” the statement concluded.
The Helen Suzman Foundation said the EFF’s conduct, which by “any standards amounts to gross intimidation, has no place in our Parliament or our society”.
EFF members, however, took to Twitter to defend the party’s actions. National spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said “No one, not a minister, not a president, must insult the Public Protector and think they can then come to parliament business as usual. Parliament has a constitutional duty to protect the PP.”
He called the EFF “the teeth, the sword and the shield of the Constitution and its Institutions”.
Deputy President and Chief Whip of the EFF, Floyd Shivambu, tweeted that the incident was “not a disruption”.
“It’s called enforcement of the rule of law. We can’t and will never permit constitutional delinquents to undermine Parliament. Well done Commissars and Fighters! It’s No retreat! No surrender!!” DM