Eastern Cape asks court to reign in 'violent' EFF

EFF members were unceremoniously removed from the Eastern Cape provincial legislature ahead of premier Oscar Mabuyane's State of the Province Address after complaints that they were inappropriately dressed in their trademark red overalls.
EFF members were unceremoniously removed from the Eastern Cape provincial legislature ahead of premier Oscar Mabuyane's State of the Province Address after complaints that they were inappropriately dressed in their trademark red overalls.
Image: RANDELL ROSKRUGE

The Eastern Cape legislature has sought refuge in the Bhisho high court from EFF members allegedly intent on “collapsing the house” through violently disrupting the scheduled business, including Thursday’s tabling of the provincial budget speech and appropriations bill.

Legislature lawyers have told the court that EFF members have expressly threatened violent disruptions for the duration of scheduled sessions of the house, constituting a direct and express threat on democracy in the province.

The high court, sitting in East London, was asked to grant an urgent order late on Wednesday safeguarding the legislature’s deliberations and interdicting EFF members of the provincial legislature (MPLs) and their supporters from interfering in the legitimate business of the house following a week of intensifying disruptions.

The interdict, if granted, would stop the EFF from interfering with, threatening, harassing, intimidating or threatening, and/or causing any physical harm to members of the legislature or its personnel.

The party would also be interdicted and restrained from physically damaging the legislature premises, property, assets or equipment.

The application was brought against all EFF MPLs, individual EFF MPLs Yazini Tetyana, Bulelwa Dial, Mlamli Makhetha, EFF official Litha Zibula, and EFF members who attend proceedings of the legislature and who sit in the public gallery.

The court application follows violence during last month’s state of the province address, when security got embroiled in scuffles with EFF who were ordered by legislature speaker Helen Sauls-August to leave the house because their red overalls constituted a transgression of the legislature’s rules.

On Tuesday, there were further scuffles, which quickly degenerated into full-blown violence that saw EFF supporters run from the upstairs public gallery to lend support to party MPLs who were fighting with security guards. Members of the public are not allowed to enter the legislature.

On Wednesday, EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu applauded the party’s members who fought off security guards in the legislature.

Lawyers for the legislature speaker, Helen Sauls-August, argued that it was the EFF’s intention to continue violently disrupting the legislature’s scheduled sessions. These included sessions to debate the Sopa, premier Oscar Mabuyane’s response to the debate, today’s (Thursday) provincial budget speech and the tabling of the appropriations bill, and the subsequent debate.

“The disruptions are (such) that the legislature is unable to fulfil its constitutional mandate as the legislative authority of the Eastern Cape province. As a corollary, the people of the province are robbed of their right to participate and observe the planning of their social and economic wellbeing.”

The application presented to court identified legislature sessions up to and including those on March 19 this year.

“These violent actions constitute an assault on the country’s constitutional democracy, undermine the country’s democratic institutions, and defeat the very democratic essence of a government by the people.”

They said that Zibula had stated the party’s intention was to “collapse the house” or legislature.

“Such an outcome cannot be allowed, but given the violent actions of the EFF, it is not hard to contemplate it eventuating.”

Advocate Lwazi Kubukeli said the EFF refused to abide by the legislature’s dress code.

He said that, thus far, the SA Police Services had failed to intervene in the fracas in the house.

He said the speaker had hired private security to protect the institution.

Neither Sauls-August, her spokesman, nor Zibula responded to calls to their numbers from DispatchLIVE on Wednesday.

Mabuyane’s spokesman said that he was unaware of the urgent court application and declined to comment.


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