Parliament is supposedly the highest expression of the will of the people, but the recent exclusion of EFF MPs is an expression of hatred by the elite who, since 1994, have been bodyguards of white minority interest and the black bourgeois. The EFF’s seven non-negotiable cardinal pillars and its posture as a Marxist-Leninist and Fanonian movement earned it hatred from all elite formations: that is, business, ANC alliance with the “vanguard” SACP, and the so-called official opposition, the DA.
The attack on the EFF has occurred precisely because the EFF is openly a pro-black political project that defies all colonial rules and its conventions. The ruling party’s hatred is a product of the EFF’s refusal to conform to elite conversions, ranging from the tone of its language to its clothing, its engagements and posture. It’s disruptive to power and offends the petite bourgeoisie.
The legislature is the only arm of the state through which the will of the people is expressed, and the exclusion of the EFF MPLs through rules and established conventions of the elite is a real threat to democracy.
The Gauteng legislature is a case in point, in which Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe, a card-carrying member of the ruling ANC, demanded the exclusion of EFF MPLs because they were not dressed appropriately. She demanded their exclusion because the legislature is “not a garden.” The exclusion of the will of almost half a million (451,318) Gauteng voters is the real threat to democracy here, not EFF MPLs’ demand for inclusion as mandated by their voters. It is self-hate by the ruling ANC, whose interest is not the masses, but to maintain rules for as long as they don’t offend their white masters.
The principle of “separation of powers” between the executive, the legislature and judiciary, the superiority of our Constitution, was yet again threatened last week. The threat was not the non-violent protest by EFF MPs, demanding that President Zuma #PayBackTheMoney which the Public Protector found he “unduly benefited” from the non-security upgrades, but rather his consistent failure to take responsibility and uphold the Constitution to which he swore loyalty.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, also a card-carrying member of the ruling ANC (and who sits in its NEC), insisted that all EFF MPs justify to her why they should not be suspended for demanding that President Zuma must pay back the money. In her letter, she claimed EFF MPs “improperly interfered with or impeded the exercise or performance by the House of its authority and functions”, among other things. On that fateful Thursday, President Zuma didn’t answer: neither the question by EFF leader Julius Malema, nor the Public Protector’s findings and recommendations. Protected by his comrade the Speaker, of course. The House was suspended for three minutes, EFF MPs chanted #PayBackTheMoney, and Zuma fled. So what exactly did the EFF disrupt?
According to the ANC’s Zizi Kodwa, “EFF is not in Parliament to resolve or to engage robustly to solve any problem, but there to cause destruction and anarchy.” Kodwa further claimed that “the violent nature of EFF engagement provokes emotions, and this may lead to political intolerance, [and] its consequences are dire for our democracy.” In fact, the following day, the security cluster ministers invited the media to a coup of Parliament, claiming to defend its authority. Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko described EFF’s demand for President Zuma to #PayBackTheMoney as “like walking into a church and expecting a dance party.” In other words, EFF must conform to the traditional conversations of Parliament, and if Zuma giggles and won’t answer, sit down quietly and passively sip on a glass of water like Mmusi Maimane.
The ANC’s majority in Parliament, as well as the Speaker’s ostensible neutrality and love of protocol and cloaking debates into a million committees, is done precisely to take away people’s power, where maintaining the decorum of 19th century British order of Parliament is more important than the quarter of a billion rand of our money wasted on one man. The ANC insists the Ad Hoc Committee, which it dominates, must resolve this matter. In other words, the ANC will answer only to itself. Playing and refereeing at the same time.
The institution of Parliament has not transformed its power; it is exclusionary, and the emphasis on maintaining decorum and following rules and established conventions is disempowering to the people. In the meantime, the 25 red berets voted in by more than a million citizens will fight for economic freedom in our lifetime, and continue to demand accountability without fear or favour. DM
Social Justice activist and researcher in the EFF Parliamentary caucus, Tokelo writes in his personal capacity Former Deputy President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Wits University. BA in Politics and International Relations from Wits University (2011). BA with honors in Journalism and Media from Wits University (2012). Master of Arts candidate in Political Sciences at Wits University. Twitter: @tokelonhlapo
"Take a chance, won't you? Knock down the fences which divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison you. Reach out. Freedom lies just on the other side." ~ Thurgood Marshall