Parliament has welcomed the decision of the Western Cape High Court to ban members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) from attending the State of the Nation Address (Sona), saying the argument by the party that the ban was an infringement of their Constitutional rights was baseless.
The national legislature said it has always been its belief that measures had to be taken to prevent disruptions.
The EFF has been involved in disruptions in Parliament in the last few years.
But the EFF announced on Thursday that it will not take part in the Sona after the High Court made its ruling.
EFF leader Julius Malema and five other members were banned from Parliament for a month, from the beginning of February.
The banning of its party members follows the findings of the Powers and Privileges Committee that the six members were guilty of misconduct after they disrupted President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sona last year. .
Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula also said this week they will implement the new rules that were adopted last December.
The rules prohibit any member of Parliament from interrupting Ramaphosa when he is addressing the nation.
Parliament said on Thursday the decision of the High Court had agreed with the issues it had raised about the application by the EFF.
“The court characterised the EFF’s application as ‘an abuse of process’ and described their conduct as ‘irresponsible’, considering that they were the cause that the matter had to be considered on an urgent basis. 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.
“The court further expressed its frustration that the EFF had, after their initial application failed, ‘repackaged’ the same case with ‘cosmetic surgery’ and requested a different relief, in effect to suspend the sanctions against its members. This caused the court to order punitive costs against the EFF,” said Parliament.
The EFF said it would not attend the Sona because it would be effectively supporting the ANC caucus.
It said the court decision was undemocratic and prevented Ramaphosa from being held accountable.
Parliament said it has been its view that the decorum of the House must be maintained and any form of disruption must not be allowed.
Mapisa-Nqakula said this week the new rules will be enforced when Parliament convenes.
National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo said the new rules were not targeting any political party, but aimed at ensuring there was order in the Chamber.