The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) became well-known for their theatrics during their first few years in parliament, and look set to continue the tradition in the sixth parliament, which convened for the first time on Wednesday.
This included dancing into parliament, party leader Julius Malema doing the vosho as he was called to be sworn in and the party refusing to stay standing for the Afrikaans and English parts of the South African national anthem.
President Cyril Ramaphosa – who will be an ordinary MP for the first few hours of the sixth parliament before a vote will almost certainly see the ANC majority confirm his title as president – was the first to be sworn in, alongside Lindiwe Sisulu, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Gwede Mantashe, Zweli Mkhize, Pravin Gordhan, and Bheki Cele.
Notably, David Mabuza, who previously said rumours that he would not be returning as deputy president were unfounded, requested not to be sworn in on Wednesday, as did former environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
Beginning proceedings, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng led the nation in prayer, saying those who can pray should pray for solutions to SA’s challenges.
This is not the first time the EFF has boycotted the section of the anthem derived from apartheid-era South African anthem Die Stem.
Before Cyril Ramaphosa’s second state of the nation address, the party’s members of parliament (MPs) were seen seated as other MPs sang this part of the anthem.
Before this, during the EFF election manifesto launch at the Gaint Stadium in Soshanguve at the beginning of February, the party’s chairperson, Dali Mpofu, led the singing of the national anthem, leaving out Die Stem as well as the English section, concluding instead with “Mayibuye iAfrica”.
“Please can we all rise and sing Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika without Die Stem van Suid Afrika,” Mpofu said.
The party’s desire for this part of the anthem to be dropped is also the subject of Malema’s masters’ thesis.
In November last year, Malema shared an email from Wits University showing that his master’s thesis proposal had been accepted.
It sees him examining whether there is a relationship between white supremacy and Die Stem, a portion of which has been retained in English and Afrikaans in the post-democratic national anthem.
And shortly before this, the party marked Heritage Day by calling for the Die Stem section of the anthem to be scrapped.
It is, however, unclear when the EFF decided that they also reject the English part of the anthem, sung to the tune of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, on which the rest of the anthem – apart from the Afrikaans section – is based.
(Background reporting, Makhosandile Zulu and Vhahangwele Nemakonde)
— Tumi Sole (@tumisole) May 22, 2019