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Economic Freedom Fighters and Others v Chairperson of the Powers & Privileges Committee and Others (23230/23) [2024] ZAWCHC 31


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Economic Freedom Fighters and Others v Chairperson of the Powers & Privileges Committee and Others (23230/23) [2024] ZAWCHC 31

Legal scales

9th February 2024


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Click here to read the full judgment on Saflii

1.               We have before us an application for an interim interdict, alternatively a so-called ‘suspension order’, pending the finalisation of an application for declarators that National Assembly Rule 214 and the Schedule thereto (which deal with the procedure which is to be followed by Parliament in the investigation and determination of allegations of misconduct and contempt by members thereof), and certain proceedings in which second to seventh applicants (‘the applicants’) were found to be in contempt of Parliament, are unlawful and unconstitutional; together with certain ancillary relief.


2.               Second to seventh applicants are members of the 1st applicant party and serve as its elected representatives in the National Assembly. At the occasion of the State of the Nation Address (‘SONA’) by the President at a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on 9 February 2023, they allegedly advanced towards him in a threatening manner and disrupted the proceedings in a manner which was against the dignity, decorum, and good order of the House.

3.               On 7 November 2023 they were notified that they were to be disciplined for these acts, by way of a charge of contempt of Parliament, in respect of which proceedings were to be held between 20-22 November 2023 before the Powers and Privileges Committee (‘the Committee’), a Standing Committee established in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.[1]


4.               The applicants duly appeared before the Committee on 20 November, assisted by counsel, at which time they made application for a postponement on various grounds, which was refused, whereupon the applicants intimated they were not prepared to subject themselves to the process and they absented themselves, together with their legal representatives.

5.               The initiator then tendered evidence, in their absence, and thereafter submitted that the Committee should find the applicants guilty as charged. As to the sanction that was to be imposed, he requested that they should be ordered to tender an apology to the President, the House, and the people of South Africa and should be suspended from the House for a period of 10 days from 6 to 16 February 2024. In motivating for those particular dates, the initiator said this would ensure that the applicants would not be able to attend SONA 2024 and disrupt its proceedings, given what they had done the year before.    After due consideration the Committee returned a finding of guilty as charged and in lieu of the sanction which was to be imposed recommended not only the apology requested but, in addition, that the applicants should be suspended for a period of 1 month, with effect from 1 February 2024. On 1 December the Committee tendered its report to the House. After deliberation, on 5 December 2023 the House resolved to accept the report and its findings, as well as the sanctions which were recommended.


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