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EFF fracas during SONA to be investigated by Parliament’s Joint Rules Committee

  • Parliament has referred the EFF’s disruptions during last week’s SONA to its joint rules committee.
  • EFF MPs stormed the stage where President Cyril Ramaphosa was sitting.
  • Chaos erupted when EFF MPs were forcibly removed by heavily armed police and parliamentary protection services officers.

The EFF’s fracas with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bodyguards during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday has been referred to Parliament’s Joint Rules Committee.

EFF MPs stormed the stage where Ramaphosa was sitting during SONA. The party had prevented the president from speaking for more than 30 minutes at the start of his speech, and was eventually ordered to leave.

As they made their way out of the chamber, chaos erupted, and EFF MPs were forcibly removed by heavily armed police and parliamentary protection services officers when they rushed onto the stage towards the president.

READ | EFF to challenge their removal from SONA in court, demands apology from National Assembly Speaker

The EFF’s conduct was captured in the announcements, tablings and committee reports (ATC) documents.

“The circumstances of the physical removal of members from the Chamber during the State-of-the-Nation address, which took place on 9 February 2023, together with the relevant parliamentary records, are referred to the Joint Rules Committee for consideration, in terms of Joint Rule 14GA,” the document read.

Parts of rule 14GA read:

  • If a member refuses to leave the Chamber when ordered to do so by the presiding officer in terms of Joint Rule 14G, the presiding officer must instruct the Serjeant-at-Arms or the Usher to remove the member from the Chamber and the precincts of Parliament forthwith.
  • If the Serjeant-at-Arms or the Usher is unable in person to effect the removal of the member, the presiding officer may call upon the Parliamentary Protection Services to assist in removing the member from the Chamber and the precincts of Parliament.
  • If a member resists attempts to be removed from the Chamber, the Serjeant-at-Arms, the Usher and the Parliamentary Protection Services may use such force as may be reasonably necessary to overcome any resistance.
  • No member may, in any manner whatsoever, physically intervene in, prevent, obstruct or hinder the removal of a member from the Chamber in terms of these Rules.

Last week, EFF leader Julius Malema said they want an apology from National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula over the fracas between his MPs and police.

Should there be no apology within 48 hours, the party would head to court.

They are challenging Mapisa-Nqakula’s conduct and that of Ramaphosa’s protectors during SONA.

Asked about the EFF threats, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mathopo said: “We will see them in court.”

READ | ‘We had to act’: Cele defends police action against EFF, likens SONA chaos to Verwoerd assassination

Hours after the drama last Thursday, Parliament said in a statement, as per Joint Rules of Parliament, the security services may intervene directly anywhere in the precincts in terms of section 4(2) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act (Act No 4 of 2004, “when there is immediate danger to the life or safety of any person or damage to any property”.

Therefore, the security services do not have to await the invitation of the presiding officers to enter the chamber when the life or safety of a member are at stake.

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