Yesterday’s ruling by Western High Court Judge Derek Wille that the EFF doesn’t have the right to disrupt parliamentary proceedings comes at a pivotal moment as the country prepares for the inauguration of the seventh Parliament.

In 2015, the EFF disrupted President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address, chanting 'Pay back the money' with regard to state expenditure on Zuma’s private home at Nkandla.

EFF MPs scuffled with parliamentary security when they were forced out of the National Assembly.

The Daily Maverick reports that the same happened in 2017 when Zuma’s star fell into a quagmire of state capture allegations.

‘In our new democracy, parliamentary members enjoy freedom of speech, but this right cannot be absolute. It is governed and regulated by parliamentary rules and regulations,’ Wille noted.

He said the foundations of SA’s constitutional dispensation placed an obligation on all ‘to respect and adhere to constitutional supremacy and the rule of law’.

EFF leader Julius Malema and 23 of the party’s MPs were the applicants, with the Speaker of the National Assembly, the chair of the NCOP and the Minister of Police as respondents.

The EFF had been accused of ‘wilfully, violently and with premeditation unlawfully (disrupting) certain Presidential proceedings’, on two occasions after which the Speaker, Baleka Mbete at the time, requested Protection Services to remove EFF MPs.

The EFF sought an order that it had been unlawful to order the ejection of its parliamentary members. On top of that, the party claimed compensatory ‘constitutional damages’. 

It said its members had been ‘unlawfully and violently assaulted during and after’ the process of their removal from Parliament.

The express intention of the EFF disruptions had been to humiliate Zuma and prevent him from addressing the nation.

Wille noted that in these circumstances, ‘it would not be legally permissible for the applicants to assert their rights to some species of constitutional protection to excuse their conduct’.

DM notes that he explained that while the opposed application concerned ‘some complex legal issues’, it essentially boiled down to ‘applying the rule of law in our new constitutional democracy’.

While the EFF had placed more emphasis on the ‘constitutional character’ of their application, their complaint was not the removal itself, but ‘the gratuitous violence’ that followed.

However, Wille found ‘the disguised and chameleonic approach of dressing up the true cause of action was simply an attempt to circumvent several statutory hurdles, and this application was not infused with any true constitutional ingredients’.

The court ordered the EFF to pay the costs of two counsel.

Full Daily Maverick report