President Cyril Ramaphosa's last State of the Nation Address (SoNA), before next year's general election, could be free from the Economic Freedom Fighters's (EFF's) "mandatory" disruption.
That is if the recommendation by advocate Anton Katz SC, the initiator appointed by Parliament, to suspend six EFF MPs in February next year, is accepted by the Powers and Privileges Committee.
On Tuesday, Katz recommended to the committee the MPs be suspended with effect from 6 February 2024 to 16 February 2024 for storming the stage during the SoNA in February.
Should the committee accept this, it would see EFF leader Julius Malema, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, the party's secretary-general Marshall Dlamini, Vuyani Pambo, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and the party's spokesperson Sinawo Thambo all miss SoNA 2024 on 8 February.
"The reason for that ... is because on 8 February 2024, I am informed that this is when SoNA 2024 will take place. What is clear is that the six members do not take SoNA seriously. They violated the dignity and the quorum of .... both Houses of Parliament when the president was reporting back to the people's representatives. They didn't take it [SoNA] seriously. They took it as an opportunity, as they themselves said, to take on the president about the Phala Phala matter and a whole range of things," he said.
Katz said the six MPs should tender an apology in the National Assembly.
"It's only appropriate that they apologise too, and we would submit [their apology] to the following: the president of the Republic of South Africa, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the people of South Africa as a whole," Katz said.
The Democratic Alliance's Annelie Lotriet said the six MPs were indeed guilty.
"It is clear from my side that these affected members are guilty on the charges brought against them," she said.
The African National Congress's (ANC's) Manketsi Tlhape agreed with Lotriet.
"Notwithstanding the occasion, the affected members have a case to answer. I agree with Honourable Lotriet that they are guilty as charged," she said.
During proceedings on Monday, Malema made several racial remarks against Katz, before removing his legal team from the meeting. Malema said his party would never be "persecuted" by a white man.
Minutes after Ramaphosa began his SoNA on 9 February this year, EFF MPs started raising several points of order.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ordered the MPs to leave the chamber and, as they walked out, some of them stormed onto the stage.
Within seconds, Parliamentary Protection Services officers stopped the EFF MPs from getting to Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa's bodyguards and the heavily armed tactical police officers wrestled with some of the MPs, including Malema.
According to Katz, lawyers for the EFF wrote to the State Attorney concerning written submissions to the Powers and Privileges Committee.
"The affected members chose, as was their right, to walk out and to no longer take part in the proceedings. Thereafter, evidence was led, and the chairperson gave a direction that closing arguments would begin [on Tuesday] and to us it would seem that the request to make written representations by close of business [on Tuesday] undermines the chairperson's direction and undermines the committee's decision to refuse a postponement.
"[It] is inconsistent with the affected members' decision to walk out, so for those three reasons we submit that I should get on with my closing submissions and the committee then makes a decision on the merits of the decision without granting that indulgence, which amounts to undermining this very committee and the chair [of] this committee's decision," Katz said.
Given the absence of the EFF MPs and their legal team, there was no rebuttal from their side.
The committee may consider the EFF's written submissions once received.
Hearings continue on Wednesday.