The EFF is crying foul after the Western Cape High Court struck off the roll the party’s urgent application to suspend the sanctions imposed by Parliament on Julius Malema and other top party leaders.
The red berets said on Wednesday the ruling underscored the suppressive nature of the Cabinet’s attempts to stifle accountability and silence those who hold President Cyril Ramaphosa accountable.
This comes after the high court on Tuesday removed from the roll the EFF’s application in the matter involving the suspension of Malema, Floyd Shivambu, Marshall Dlamini, Sinawo Thambo, Vuyani Pambo and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
They were found guilty of contempt of Parliament during the 2023 State of the Nation Address (Sona) for disobeying National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s authority and disrupting the joint sitting.
After they were ordered to leave the House, the MPs climbed on to the stage where Ramaphosa was delivering his speech with placards -- a move that prompted police to storm the House.
At the time the EFF took issue with Ramaphosa for approaching the apex court to review and set aside the report of a three-member panel that found he had a case to answer over money that was stolen on his Phala Phala farm.
In December, the National Assembly adopted the report of the powers and privileges committee which recommended the MPs’ suspension without pay in February and that they apologise to Ramaphosa, Mapisa-Nqakula and South Africans.
Parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said the red berets asked the court's leniency in accepting the late filing of their replies to the affidavit for the National Assembly and their heads of arguments.
Mothapo said they agreed with the majority judgment that the responsibility lay with the EFF to ensure that they adhered to court rules and had a well-prepared case that was ripe for hearing.
“The EFF imposed unreasonable timeframes and their filing on midnight before the next court day not only inconvenienced Parliament and the court but also indicated their lack of readiness for their application to be heard,” he said.
Mothapo also said the suspension of Malema and others would be effective from Thursday until February 29.
However, EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said the suspension was clearly motivated and aimed to intimidate those who sought to hold the government accountable.
“The initial peaceful protest at the 2023 Sona stemmed from serious allegations against Cyril Ramaphosa regarding the discovery of large amounts of foreign cash concealed in his furniture, which eventually unfolded in what is now known as the Phala Phala scandal,” Thambo said.
The EFF remained deeply concerned about the lack of adequate investigation and subsequent accountability following the discovery of the cash, including the illegal activity in attempts to recover the money, he said.
The SA Reserve Bank, SA Revenue Service and Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka found no wrong-doing by Ramaphosa.
Thambo said they were not surprised that the ethics committee, which is dominated by the ANC, proceeded with the disciplinary hearing against the EFF members.
“The timing of this suspension, specifically choosing February 2024 to exclude our members from the upcoming Sona, is particularly nefarious.
“This move appears to be a calculated attempt to ensure Ramaphosa can deliver his final Sona without facing scrutiny from the EFF.
“It is, therefore, evident that the ANC-led government is resorting to vindictive measures to silence opposition voices and evade accountability for their failures.”
Thambo said the EFF MPs who will attend next week’s Sona would continue to hold Ramaphosa accountable for his failures.
“We remain resolute in our commitment to fighting for justice, transparency and accountability in Parliament regardless of the attempts to silence us.
“The EFF will not be deterred in our mission to hold the government accountable and fight for the interests of the people,” he added.