EFF MPs will boycott the State of the Nation Address (Sona) and next week’s debate after the red berets suffered another court defeat in their bid to have Julius Malema and five other top leaders allowed to attend Thursday’s proceedings.
This took place after the Western Cape High Court dismissed their latest urgent application with costs on Thursday morning after Malema and others were suspended for the whole of February for contempt of Parliament and disrupting last year’s Sona.
Confirming the court ruling, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the court characterised the EFF’s application as “an abuse of process” and described their conduct as “irresponsible”.
“Parliament agrees with the court that the argument claiming the suspensions infringed upon the constitutional rights of the EFF to participate in the State of the Nation Address was without merit, as the remaining EFF MPs could still adequately represent them,” Mothapo said.
He also said the court expressed its frustration that the EFF had, after their initial failed application, “repackaged” the same case with “cosmetic surgery” and requested a different relief to suspend the sanctions against its members.
“It has always been Parliament’s aim to protect the institution from persistent and continuous disruptions. The State of the Nation Address must take place in a peaceful environment and with respect for the decorum of the House and the people of South Africa,” he said.
EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said they rejected with contempt the court’s ruling that “unlawfully and undemocratically” barred Malema and five others from participating in 2024 Sona activities and programme.
“It is evident and certainly beyond reasonable doubt that the courts continue to be part of the Ramaphosa defence mob, whose primary and sole aim is to protect the racist white capitalist establishments.
“Courts in South Africa have been reduced to being part of the Ramaphosa defence mob because he is the representative and puppet of the white capitalist establishment,” Thambo said.
He charged that the court’s ruling represented suppression of democracy and accountability.
Thambo also said all the red berets MPs will not participate in the 2024 Sona activities and programmes.
Thambo said the 2024 Sona was an extended caucus of the ANC.
“Partial participation in the 2024 Sona activities and programme would imply that some of our members agree with the unlawful, undemocratic and unconstitutional decisions of Parliament to forbid and banish elected MPs.
“We will therefore not attend nor participate in the ANC’s extended parliamentary caucus,” he said.
Thambo also said the EFF would appeal the ruling of the Western Cape High Court.
“We will appeal the nonsensical judgment because it is backward and reminiscent of the colonial and apartheid past, where laws were arbitrarily used to suppress and prevent political participation of the majority of our people,” he said.
The EFF decision to boycott the 2024 Sona took place as parliamentary presiding officers indicated that they would implement the new amended rules.
The rules, which were adopted in December 2023, provide that no MP is allowed to interrupt the president while delivering his address.
They also prohibit interruptions during the president’s speech and stipulate that no other business may be considered during a joint sitting other than the specific business for which the joint sitting is convened.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula earlier told the public broadcaster that the fact that six EFF MPs would not attend Sona did not mean red berets as a party would not be represented.
“Debates will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday. For now it is for us to take our seats and listen to what the president has to deliver.”