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Lamola slams SONA chaos: ‘I don’t think such behaviour belongs in a constitutional democracy’

  • Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has lambasted EFF members of Parliament who heckled President Cyril Ramaphosa when he attempted to give his State of the Nation Address.
  • EFF leader Julius Malema led his fellow MPs in chorus as they attempted to prevent Ramaphosa from addressing the country. 
  • The EFF MPs were later marched out of Cape Town’s City Hall by Parliament security.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola believes the EFF’s disruption of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday was undemocratic. 

Lamola told News24 that superior logic did not form part of the EFF’s political strategy, which saw its members ordered out of the proceedings.

Points of order from opposition political parties, including EFF leader Julius Malema and African Transformation Movement president Vuyolwethu Zungula, continually disrupted Ramaphosa as he tried to deliver the SONA.

Malema and his fellow party members had to be marched out of Cape Town’s City Hall by Parliament security.  

Moments later, the EFF leader told the media that South Africa was a dictatorship because of the party’s removal.  

In contrast, Lamola believes the opposite was true in his analysis of the situation.

The minister described the incident as unfortunate because he believes the EFF  could have waited for the political response session, scheduled for next week, if it found issues with Ramaphosa’s speech.

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

 “I think it’s unfortunate. South Africa is a constitutional democracy. What should prevail is superior logic. What should prevail is what the speaker was saying. All political parties will have an opportunity to engage robustly with the speech next week, which is one of the features of our parliamentary system and constitutional democracy,” Lamola said.  

He added that the shouting and heckling did not belong in a constitutional democracy. 

“There was no need to disrupt, stop the president or anyone from making a point. You can engage with a point and deal with it robustly. I don’t think such behaviour belongs in a constitutional democracy where superior logical must prevail,” the minister told News24 on Thursday night, following Ramaphosa’s speech. 

Th EFF has repeatedly disrupted SONAs, including some delivered by former president Jacob Zuma.


EFF members are removed from the Cape Town City Hall during the SONA address.

Gallo Images Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams

In assessing his department’s plans for the year ahead, as outlined by Ramaphosa, Lamola described the speech as “decisive and bold”.  

“It gave us progress and updates about the country on several issues regarding the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) and the ID (Investigating Directorate) and the work they continue to do regarding state capture recommendations,” the minister said.  

READ | SONA 2023: Ramaphosa’s bodyguards called into action after EFF MPs storm stage

Ramaphosa said in his address that plans were progressing to ensure the ID becomes a permanent structure of the NPA.

Lamola said his department would work tirelessly to ensure whistleblowers were protected by fast-tracking the review of key legislation dealing with witness protection.

“We are working on reviewing the witnesses protection act and the protected disclosure act because the loopholes are being exploited. We can only act on the powers given by legislation to intervene and help the whistleblowers. We are working on the review. We are also looking at temporary measures to intervene when the measure arises,” Lamola said.

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