Durban — The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have lost an important opportunity to be part of the State Of the Nation Address (Sona), given this year is an election year, say political analysts.
The Cape Town High Court last week dismissed an application by the EFF to lift the bar on its leader Julius Malema, his deputy Floyd Shivambu and other senior EFF MPs attending Sona because of their behaviour last year.
They had stormed the podium and sought to prevent President Cyril Ramaphosa from delivering his address.
Analysts believe that while the EFF MPs will be outside Parliament, they will make every effort to not be on the sidelines.
Professor Irshad Kaseeram, a political analyst from the University of Zululand, said that while the African National Congress would try to sell itself to the voting public by highlighting government’s successes in delivering public services, opposition parties would use the opportunity of the Sona debate to market themselves to voters.
“That is why the absence of the EFF from the Sona debate will be a blow to them because they will not have a platform to sell themselves,” said Kaseeram.
He noted that the rowdy behaviour of EFF MPs dated back to the era of former president Jacob Zuma.
“We need all the voices, in line with democracy, but everything has to be done in a cordial manner,” Kaseeram said.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo was also of the view that the ban from the sitting would be a blow to the EFF, as its leader would not get a chance, like his counterparts on the opposition benches, to speak on a national podium.
“It is minus the publicity that they would normally get and it will definitely hurt them because the elections are months away. Each party needs as much publicity as it can get,” said Khumalo.
He pointed out that the EFF had demonstrated in the past that it is a resourceful organisation, especially when it comes to getting their message heard.
“They are very creative and will find a way of getting their voices heard, and so one cannot rule out them finding a voice from Sona even though they are banned,” Khumalo said.
While the EFF’s absence would have been an ideal opportunity for other opposition parties to sell their story to the electorate, there was very little chance of that as many were determined to stick to their positions and not sell one umbrella concept.
He was referring to the Multi-Party Charter, a recently-formed coalition of opposition parties whose aim is to take power away from the ANC.
Khumalo said any undertakings made by Ramaphosa on Thursday were unlikely to be warmly received by the electorate because of what is seen as his record of making promises but not delivering on them.