The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) faced a legal setback, on Thursday, as the Western Cape High Court dismissed their urgent application to lift the suspension that barred Julius Malema and five other MPs from attending the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2024.
EFF lose third attempt at lifting Malema’s suspension from SONA 2024
This decision marks the third judicial defeat for the EFF in a single week, emphasising the court’s stance on the matter.
The EFF’s plea argued for their right to peacefully protest at the previous year’s SONA, contesting the sanctions imposed by the powers and privileges committee and the National Assembly as unconstitutional.
However, the court, led by Judge Kate Savage, criticised the EFF for its approach to refile the application with minor adjustments after it was initially struck off the roll.
The judge accused the EFF of “recklessly” re-enrolling the matter and deemed their actions an “abuse of process.”
The origin of the EFF’s suspension from SONA 2024 can be traced back to Parliament’s implementation of new rules aimed at preventing disruptions during the address.
These rules, specifically chapters 1 to 2B of the Joint Rules of Parliament, were introduced to prohibit interruptions of the President during his speech and allow for the removal of MPs from the chamber if necessary.
The EFF’s challenge against these rules was dismissed by the court, which found no evidence to support the party’s claim that the rules were adopted with an ulterior motive to target them.
It was pointed out that all political parties are subject to these rules, debunking the EFF’s argument of being specifically targeted. This legal battle underscores the tensions between the EFF and parliamentary protocols, particularly in the context of ensuring a disruption-free SONA.
Historically, the EFF has been known for its disruptive presence at previous SONA events, a trend that Parliament aimed to curb with the amended rules.
The SONA 2024 live proceedings are expected to kick off at 18:00.