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Court throws out EFF Parliament case

EFF Members of Parliament showing signs and disrupting proceedings in 2019. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

EFF Members of Parliament showing signs and disrupting proceedings in 2019. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 18, 2022

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The Western Cape High Court has thrown out the EFF’s urgent application that sought an interim interdict to suspend the implementation of sanctions against its Members of Parliament.

The sanctions against EFF MPs Nthako Matiase, Nokulunga Sonti and 14 others arose from a report from the National Assembly’s (NA’s) Powers and Privileges Committee that was adopted in December last year.

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The committee had disciplined the EFF members for disrupting Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget vote speech on July 11, 2019.

Matiase and Sonti were penalised by losing their salaries for a month, while the other 14 MPs were fined one month’s salary and allowances.

According to Parliament, the EFF MPs repeatedly raised points of order, which were ruled invalid by Presiding Officer NA House Chairperson Grace Boroto. The MPs persisted in raising the same points of order and then stood up, crossed the floor and proceeded towards Gordhan. Boroto then asked the Parliamentary Protection Service to remove the EFF MPs.

The EFF brought an application for an interim interdict in December 2020, pending the finalisation of the EFF’s review application.

The EFF had applied to have the committee report and the process leading up to its adoption declared unlawful, reviewed and set aside. The review has yet to be enrolled for a hearing.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said that in March 2021, the EFF MPs were notified of the committee’s finding of guilt and were invited to make representations on both the findings and the sanctions, but they chose not to accept this invitation.

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“In its judgment, the court said it found it difficult to understand why the EFF was seeking an interim interdict against the committee. The EFF launched the review application in December 2020 and has been able to approach the court for interdictory relief against the committee since March 12, 2021, when they were notified of the guilty findings and the intention to impose sanctions,” said the court.

The court also said that it could not understand the slow pace of the EFF's pursuit of the review application. As no evidence had been placed before it as to when the review was likely to be heard, the implication was that the EFF was asking the court to interdict the committee indefinitely.

The court further emphasised that there was a duty on a party applying for interim interdictory relief to bring its application expeditiously and with conscientiousness. Had the EFF done so, the review application would most likely have already been decided.

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“The court held that the EFF created its own urgency in the case, adopting a timetable to suit itself and failed to place all relevant facts before the court to support a case of true urgency.”

The court ordered the EFF to pay costs.

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