EFF wins Marikana comment case

The Economic Freedom Fighters said the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday handed the people of Marikana a victory by ruling that its MPs had been within their rights to tell National Assembly that the ANC had killed people in the North West mining town.

Judge Lee Bozalek set aside a ruling by National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise that Malema was out of order when he proclaimed on June 19 that “the ANC government massacred the people in Marikana”.

He found that both that the ruling and Modise’s subsequent order for Malema to leave the chamber were unlawful and ordered Modise to pay costs.

Modise told ordered Malema to leave after he refused to withdraw the remark, insisting that if the government claimed credit when the police reduced crime rates, it should likewise shoulder the blame when the police killed striking workers.

Modise motivated her decision by saying many members of the National Assembly were members of the executive and that Malema had effectively accused them of mass murder.

But the court found her interpretation of what the EFF leader said unwarranted and concluded that giving such a wide interpretation to the term “government” would have a constrictive effect on future debates in the Assembly.

Bozalek also pointed out that the rules of Parliament were designed to echo the guarantee of freedom of speech and debate the Constitution gives MPs.

“The primacy of a Member of Parliament’s right to free speech has been consistently recognised by our courts,” he added.

EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “We welcome the high court ruling. It is a victory for the mineworkers of Marikana who deserve to have their story told and told with precision,” EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told ANA.

“It is also a victory for democracy and in particular the principle of free speech,” he said.

Ndlozi said the court ruling was an embarrasment to Parliament because it showed that the EFF understood the rules of the legislature better than the presiding officers.

“It is an embarrassment to them that we should go to court for something so simple. The entire leadership of Parliament was wrong on this issue and should stop using Parliament to settle political scores.

“We will be their every time and will embarrass them again if they do.”

The ANC was the second respondent in the case.

Ndlozi urged President Jacob Zuma to release the final report of the Marikana commission of enquiry. The findings were handed to him at the end of March.