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Bad chair day: EFF unhappy about seating arrangements at SONA, wants more front row seats


EFF leader Julius Malema at the 2022 SONA debate at Cape Town City Hall on 14 February 2022.

EFF leader Julius Malema at the 2022 SONA debate at Cape Town City Hall on 14 February 2022.

PHOTO: Jeffrey Abrahams/Gallo Images

  • Preparations for SONA at the Cape Town City Hall next Thursday are well advanced.
  • The EFF is unhappy about the seating arrangements, and the DA has given up one of its seats in the front row.
  • On Monday, Parliament will commemorate Frene Ginwala at a joint sitting.

The EFF is unhappy about the seating arrangements for next week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Cape Town City Hall.

The EFF is entitled to two seats in the front row, but this is apparently not enough for the self-described radical and militant economic emancipation movement.

Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, told the National Assembly Programming Committee on Thursday morning that they had approached the DA, which was amenable to give up one of its seats in the front row.

Xaso said: 

The EFF will now have three seats in the front row and the DA four.

Xaso said the seating arrangements for SONA would be different compared to previous meetings at the City Hall, because it was a joint sitting, including the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

At the committee’s previous meeting, some MPs were concerned about the number of guests political parties were allowed to take along. There will be 90 guests, to be shared among the 14 political parties represented in Parliament.

READ | ‘Backup is in place’: National Assembly secretary allays concerns that load shedding may disrupt SONA

The committee also heard that it was all systems go for SONA, which will take place on Thursday at 19:00.

Parliament will also host a joint sitting at the City Hall on Monday to commemorate the first speaker of the democratic Parliament, Frene Ginwala, who died last month.

This sitting will start at 14:00 and entail a 45-minute documentary, followed by 130 minutes of debate. There will be catering services for MPs, but they must pay for it themselves.

Meanwhile, Parliament said in a statement that the City Hall was handed over to Parliament on Wednesday to prepare for SONA. The area around the hall will be closed off, and the entrance in Corporation Street will be the only point of entry.

ALSO READ | Why EFF members are resigning en masse from their positions in Parliament, provincial legislatures

The Cape Town City Hall is being used by Parliament after the National Assembly Chamber was razed in a fire on 2 January 2022. The Good Hope Chamber on the parliamentary precinct, which has been used for hybrid plenary meetings, is not big enough to host all MPs.

Before the meeting officially started on the virtual platform, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi told National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that she didn’t call the “bouncers” when her people were “misbehaving” at the ANC conference at Nasrec in December, so she should not call them for EFF members.

“Hayi, man, let’s close this topic,” a laughing Mapisa-Nqakula responded.

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