EFF leader Julius Malema’s threats to disrupt the state of the nation address next month have not been taken lightly.
Parliament’s presiding officers have given a stern warning to “members of Parliament making public threats to disrupt the business of Parliament”.
Malema, who was addressing a crowd of EFF supporters in the Mamusa municipality in the North West on Sunday ahead of a by-election this week, said if President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t fire Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, his state of the nation address would be disrupted.
“I want to tell Cyril Ramaphosa today, that if he can’t fire Pravin before the state of the nation address, the state of the nation address shall be about Pravin,” he said.
National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo released a strongly worded statement on Monday in response to the “threats”.
They said they were not losing any sleep about possible disruptions because “there exists an appropriate mechanism to ensure that no disruption takes place”but added that such threats were “irresponsible and showed lack of understanding for one’s duty to the public”.
The state of the nation address is scheduled for February 13.
“While the presiding officers would not lose any sleep over such threats ... they find such perennial threats ahead of key parliamentary programmes objectionable and an unnecessary distraction to the institution’s commitments to South Africans,” said Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.
“The complex challenges confronting our country requires capable public representatives who endeavour to strengthen Parliament’s constitutional function of fearless oversight over the executive, not impede its work.”
The EFF members of Parliament have a history of disruption in the House.
Most recently, the EFF tried to disrupt Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget vote speech in July, and were kicked out of Parliament.
The 2017 state of the nation address descended into chaos when the EFF members were asked to leave the house after raising a series of points of order. They refused, and parliamentary protection officials had to step in and remove them.