The campaign to get President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the money spent on security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead was a fight against corruption as a whole, EFF leader Julius Malema said on Tuesday.
“Remember, this matter is not about Nkandla, it’s about accountability and corruption. These are the faces of lack of accountability and corruption,” Malema said, addressing reporters in Johannesburg.
“We are speaking Nkandla because we are fighting corruption. So once we win Nkandla, we would’ve won a fight against corruption. People will never agree to be accountable… for as long as the president has not been held accountable.”
Malema said that once the president was held accountable, everyone would know that if they committed corruption Parliament would hold them to account.
Malema said the Economic Freedom Fighters would see Zuma at the state-of-the-nation address on February 12 and ask him to answer their questions.
“We are not being disruptive. We are scared that if we don’t hold Zuma accountable on the 12th of February, we are likely to see him again in 2016,” Zuma said.
“He may not come back after the state-of-the-nation because he has proved that he doesn’t take Parliament seriously… These people are playing with South Africans.”
Malema said the EFF would force ANC parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete and Zuma to “respect the rules” of Parliament.
He said the EFF had used a persuasive approach by writing to Mbete.
In a response to Malema on Tuesday, Mbete urged him to desist from using the address next month to demand that he answers questions on the Nkandla controversy.
“I would urge you to desist from such conduct and instead engage constructively in processing matters relating to the functioning of the (National) Assembly,” Mbete wrote.
She said Zuma would have an opportunity to respond to issues raised by MPs during the parliamentary debate on his address in the days thereafter.
On Tuesday, Malema said the EFF would be patient but remain “very robust and very fearless” to get the answer from Zuma on when he would pay back the money, how much he would pay back and by when.
“It is not us who bring down Parliament, it’s Baleka. All the time Zuma is asked a question, Baleka acts in an irrational manner. She becomes unreasonable and she forgets even her own rules of Parliament,” he said.
“Because she is supposed to be the custodian of the rules of Parliament and exercise maximum restraint and patience, because she is partisan and she attends to the EFF with attitude, she is unable to even listen to the logic behind the EFF’s argument and as a result she collapses Parliament.”
Malema said Zuma should start in Parliament where he left off and that was by answering the question in terms of Parliamentary rules.
February 12 would be the first time Zuma was in Parliament since the EFF shouted “Pay back the money” during his answer session.
Last year, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report stated that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from some of the upgrades at his home and recommended he pay back some of the money.
On August 21 last year, pandemonium broke out in Parliament when EFF MPs banged on their desks and chanted “pay back the money”, in relation to the Nkandla controversy, disrupting Zuma’s replies to questions.
At the time, opposition parties expressed dissatisfaction with how Zuma had answered questions related to the R246 million spent on security upgrades to his private Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal.
In December, the High Court in Cape Town lifted sanctions against 20 suspended EFF MPs that had been imposed following the incident.
EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee said the EFF would establish branches in all South African wards, and establish a student command to contest student representative councils in higher learning institutions.
The EFF would lead “radical and militant” campaigns around mining communities and land redistribution programmes.