By M&G/Sarah Evans, 24 June 2014

Following his remarks about the ANC’s hand in the Marikana massacre, no decision has been made on whether to sanction Julius Malema from Parliament.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s fate in Parliament is still uncertain, as no decision has been made on whether to sanction him for his conduct in the National Assembly last week.

But the EFF remained resolute this week that any action taken against Malema would be challenged in court. On Friday morning, National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise said she would consult the speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, and Parliament’s rules on whether Malema should be sanctioned.

This followed Malema’s remarks during the debate on Zuma’s State of the Nation address that the ANC was responsible for the Marikana massacre.

When Malema refused to apologise for his statement, Modise ordered him out of the National Assembly. “Chair, when police reduce crime you come here and say the ANC has reduced crime. When police kill people, you don’t want us to come here and say the ANC government has killed people. That is inconsistent, honourable chair,” said Malema, before leaving the house.

Several EFF MPs staged a walkout and followed Malema out of the house. Modise hinted that these members could also be sanctioned for disruptive behaviour.

‘The ball is in their hands’
At a press briefing shortly afterwards, Malema repeated his refusal to apologise for his remarks and vowed to challenge any attempt to sanction him in court. On Monday, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi reiterated this view.

“Let’s wait to hear what Parliament will say,” Ndlozi said this week. “We are, as indicated, willing to test it [any possible sanction] in court. Really the ball is in their hands, at this stage.”  But with Mbete on sick leave, Modise has not been able to consult her.

“I can’t add anything to what Modise said at this stage,” said parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs on Tuesday. He said Modise and Mbete would consult when Mbete returned to work, and they would also seek advice on what the rules of Parliament said on the matter. They would also study the Hansard, or verbatim, transcripts of the debate.

Section 12 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act stipulates that MPs can be sanctioned, suspended, ordered to apologise or pay a fine, if they are found to be in contempt of the house rules.

On Thursday, the ANC said it believed Malema had abused his parliamentary privileges. “We believe that he has abused the privilege of Parliament by making a reckless and irresponsible statement on a matter that is under consideration by the Farlam commission,” said ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa at the time.

Defending Malema’s remarks
“In his eagerness to project the ANC negatively, he wants to mislead the public that the ANC and its government took a decision to massacre 44 people in Marikana, including mineworkers, police and security guards.”

The EFF retorted, defending Malema’s remarks that “the ANC government killed people in Marikana”. Ndlozi, in a statement, said Modise’s ruling meant “the South African Parliament deems is unparliamentary to attribute the killing of 34 mineworkers in Marikana to the ruling party in government, the ANC”.

“No member of the EFF will ever withdraw such a diagnosis. When there is a reduction of crime by the SAPS [South African Police Service], the ANC takes responsibility and claims this victory is theirs; they claim it as an ANC achievement.

“Equally, when the police kill Andries Tatane, the Relela and Mothutlung residents, the ANC as the government of the day must take responsibility,” he said.