Security forces had no right to forcibly remove all EFF MPs from Parliament on Thursday night, the DA said, and demanded that Speaker Baleka Mbete be held to account for the incident.
Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen made the point at a media briefing on Friday that the majority of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs were not ordered out of the National Assembly by Mbete, yet were “kicked, beaten, pummelled and carted away like cattle”.
Referring to Reneilwe Mashabela, he said: “Yesterday [Thursday], one of the ladies from the EFF was kicked against a table in the most brutal manner.”
Steenhuisen claimed Mbete had called in armed police who were “trained to deal with thugs”, instead of asking parliamentary protection officers to remove the EFF MPs she ordered to leave the Chamber.
He said this violated the constitutional separation of powers, as the police reported to the executive, and that she should be called before Parliament’s powers and privileges committee.
“It is a slippery slope away from constitutional democracy.”
Three EFF MPs, including party leader Julius Malema, were told to leave the House after they persisted in trying to question Zuma about misspending on his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, during his state-of-the-nation address on Thursday night.
Maimane said the DA was taking legal advice and would seek a court order explicitly barring presiding officers from calling the police into the National Assembly because legislation may not be clear enough in this regard.
He went on to accuse Mbete of being partisan and acting in bad faith.
“In this instance, the Speaker of the National Assembly is a member of the [African National Congress].
“The speaker of the National Assembly acted in the interests of the ANC. She allowed the executive to act in a manner that they sought to find ways to undermine the Constitution.
“She protected President Jacob Zuma.”
The DA walked out in protest before Zuma resumed his speech, but Maimane stressed that this was in protest at police being called, and not in support of the EFF’s actions.
“I think the actions of the EFF were wrong. If the ruling concludes that your point of order is not appropriate, in my view you should accept that ruling and you need to, if you are asked to leave the Chamber, you need to be able to do that yourself.”