Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2012-10-31 Reporter: Paul Vecchiatto

Lekota ejected from the National Assembly over Zuma comments



Business Day

Date 2012-10-31

Paul Vecchiatto

FOR the first time in the history of South Africaís democracy, the enforcer of Parliamentís rules, the sergeant-at-arms, was ordered to evict an MP from the National Assembly, after Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota refused to withdraw his remarks, made last month, that President Jacob Zuma should be impeached.

However, Mr Lekota and his fellow party members departed before the sergeant-at-arms could forcibly remove him. This is the second time in three months that National Assembly Deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo has expelled Mr Lekota from the Assembly.

The first instance was in July after Mr Lekota accused President Jacob Zuma of not defending the rights of The Spear artist, Brett Murray.

That expulsion is now subject to a Constitutional Court action by Mr Lekota that is scheduled to be heard on November 29.

On Tuesday, Mr Lekota was expelled when Ms Mfeketo said he had told the House last Tuesday : "The president is illegally refusing to be bound by section 165 of the constitution which binds all persons to obey a judicial order, and he said COPE requests the speaker that impeachment procedure against the president be instituted for defying a lawful judicial order ".

At the time, Mr Lekota accused Mr Zuma of "defying" a Supreme Court of Appeals order to hand over the abbreviated transcripts of the terms that permitted criminal charges to be dropped against Mr Zuma. African National Congress chief whip Mathole Motshekga immediately objected to Mr Lekotaís comments, calling them unparliamentary, and asked Ms Mfeketo to make a ruling.

on Tuesday, Ms Mfeketo said Mr Lekota was a long-standing member of the House, was a former Cabinet minister and, at one time, was a presiding officer. She cited parliamentary rules that permitted any matter to be raised, but said the character and dignity of any member could not be attacked without a substantive motion. She ordered Mr Lekota to withdraw the comments.

Mr Lekota said that since his previous expulsion was subject to a court hearing and that the tapes were as well, he could not withdraw his comments. "If I had to withdraw (my comments) then I would have to throw out my court case," he argued. Ms Mfeketo ordered him to leave, and after he remained seated called for the sergeant-at-arms.

Ms Mfeketo also ordered Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa to withdraw their comments, made during Augustís Marikana shooting debate, that when minister of defence during former president Thabo Mbekiís term, Mr Lekota ordered soldiers into the Gauteng township of Khutsong to act against civilians. She ruled that the comments by the ministers were against the dignity and character of Mr Lekota, but did not rule on the truthfulness of their statements.

Democratic Alliance chief whip Watty Watson said he would approach National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu about what he called the "disgraceful " conduct of Ms Mfeketo and Mr Motshekga.

With acknowledgement to Paul Vecchiatto and Business Day.

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