â€¦Challenges the suspension decision in High Court
Two Members of Parliament (MPs) representing the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party have taken their suspension to the High Court.
Dr Mahali Phamotse and Thuso Makhalanyane, who joined RFP from the Alliance Democrats (AD) last year, were issued suspension letters by the party’s Integrity and Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) after a brief disciplinary hearing.
Phamotse and Makhalanyane contend that their hearing was biased and designed to expel them from the party. Seeking the court’s intervention, they aim to invalidate the hearing and the subsequent decision by the committee.
The suspension would bar them from engaging in party activities for a duration of six years.
The executive committee of the RFP, the Integrity and Dispute Resolution Committee, and the RFP itself have been listed as respondents.
The suspension letters, witnessed by this publication, notified Makhalanyane of the decision: â€œThe recent hearing conducted by the Integrity and Dispute Resolution Committee and subsequent decision made by the NEC following the recommendations of the DRC, we regret to inform you that, in accordance with Article 11 (b) of our constitution, the NEC has taken the decision to suspend your membership for a period of six months.â€
The letter also outlined the restrictions during the suspension period, which included limitations on visiting party constituencies, holding meetings within their constituencies, participating in formal and informal proceedings, attending parliamentary activities, and making public pronouncements on party matters.
The MPs were further prohibited from wearing party regalia.
The letter emphasised their right to appeal the decision during the partyâ€™s annual or special general conference, with a warning that failure to adhere to the suspensionâ€™s terms could result in further actions as per the partyâ€™s constitution.
The MPs argue that the partyâ€™s constitution dictates that the DRC should establish its structures at various levels, allowing aggrieved members to lodge complaints.
However, they claim that this practice was not followed in their cases, as no complaints were filed against them through the channels outlined in the constitution.
Phamotse argued in court papers that the NECâ€™s role in the disciplinary process conflicted with its role as the appellant structure for the DRCâ€™s findings.
She stated: â€œThis is tantamount to being a referee and a player at the same time. I submit that this is a gross violation of my right to be heard in a fair and transparent process.â€
Phamotse also highlighted the practical implications of the suspension, particularly her inability to participate in parliamentary activities and serve her constituents.
The suspension, according to her, ultimately deprives the nation of value for money invested in her role as an MP.
The suspended MPsâ€™ perspective diverged from that of Mokhethi Shelile, the partyâ€™s spokesperson, who suggested that the MPs had the right to appeal the decision during the partyâ€™s Annual General Meeting scheduled for September 30, 2023.
Rethabile Letlailana, the third MP involved, also underwent a disciplinary hearing and was subsequently served with a six-year suspension letter.
Shelile on Monday acknowledged the delay in suspending the MPs and underscored the importance of respecting party decisions as members.