EFF Members in contempt of Parliament must face the full might of the law
17 February 2020
The Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) behaviour during the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week amounts to contempt of Parliament.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) therefore welcomes the decision to refer their conduct to Parliament’s Powers and Privileges committee. We believe that, if found guilty by this committee, Parliament should open a criminal case against the Members involved and that they be charged with contempt of Parliament.
The Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures Act prohibits improperly interfering with or impeding the authority or functions of the House, and creating or taking part in any disturbance within the precinct while the House is sitting. In terms of section 13 of the Act, this conduct would amount to contempt of Parliament, an offence that carries a sentence of a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.
If the Powers and Privileges committee, therefore, finds any EFF members in contravention of the Act, Parliament would be well within its rights to refer the matter to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, as provided for in section 12(6).
While Members enjoy freedom of speech in the House, there are platforms on which matters may be raised, and the SONA is not the time or place. Moreover, the kind of race-based vitriol so readily embraced by the EFF, whose objections to individuals stems largely from the fact that they belong to ethnic minority groups, has no place in a democratic and non-racial South Africa.
The DA will not stand for the unruly, disruptive, violent and racist behaviour displayed by the EFF during SONA.
Issued by Natasha Mazzone,Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, 17 February 2020