South Africa 15.4.2015 06:19 pm

EFF welcomes court victory on Malema’s Marikana remarks

EFF president  Julius Malema on the  27 January 2015. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

EFF president Julius Malema on the 27 January 2015. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The Economic Freedom Fighters on Wednesday welcomed a Western Cape High Court decision that it had not been unparliamentary for Julius Malema to tell the National Assembly that the ANC government had killed miners in Markana but the ANC chief whip warned it could lower the tone of political debate.

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.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said his office was still studying the judgment but it placed at risk the decorum of Parliament.

“We believe that on the face of it, the judgment might have far reaching implications on the culture of parliamentary debates, in particular the rules governing the appropriateness of language used by MPs in parliament

“In this regard, name-calling and unsubstantiated claims, particularly of criminal nature, made against fellow MPs run counter to the kind a democratic institution that the rules are intended to preserve.”

He added that it was common knowledge that there was no substance to Malema’s claim.

READ MORE: EFF wins Marikana comment case

 

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