Western Cape High Court strikes off its Roll EFF case against Parliament
The court held that the EFF created its own urgency in the case, adopting a timetable to suit itself and failed to place all relevant facts before the court to support a case of true urgency
There is a duty on a party applying for interim interdictory relief to bring its application with conscientiousness and expedition
The Western Cape High Court has struck of its roll the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFFs’) urgent application seeking an interim interdict to suspend the implementation of sanctions against its Members of Parliament arising from a report from the National Assembly’s (NA’s) Powers and Privileges Committee.
The report was adopted by the NA on 7 December 2021. It recommended that EFF MPs Mr Nthako Matiase and Ms Nokulunga Sonti receive no remuneration for a period not exceeding 30 days. It also recommended that the other 14 MPs receive a fine not exceeding one month’s salary and allowances.
The sanctions emanate from the disruption caused by16 EFF MPs during Minister of Public Enterprises Mr Pravin Gordhan’s budget vote speech on 11 July 2019. The EFF MPs repeatedly raised points of order, which were ruled invalid by Presiding Officer NA House Chairperson Ms Grace Boroto. The MPs persisted in raising the same points of order and then stood up, crossed the floor and proceed towards the Minister. Ms Boroto asked the Parliamentary Protection Services to remove the EFF MPs, according to NA Rule 73(2).
The application for the interim interdict was brought before the court pending the finalisation of the EFFs’ review application, which was launched in December 2020. The EFF is applying to have the committee report and the process leading up to its adoption declared unlawful, reviewed and set aside. The review has yet to be enrolled for a hearing.
On March 2021, the EFF MPs were notified of the committee’s finding of guilt and were invited to make representations on both the findings and the sanctions. They chose not to accept this invitation.
In its judgement, the court said it found it difficult to understand why the EFF was seeking an interim interdict against the committee. The EFF launched the review application in December 2020 and has been able to approach the court for interdictory relief against the committee since 12 March 2021, when they were notified of the guilty findings and the intention to impose sanctions.
The court also said that it could not understand the slow pace of the EFFs’ pursuit of the review application. As no evidence has been placed before the court as to when the review is likely to be heard, the implication is that the EFF is asking the court to interdict the committee indefinitely.
The court further emphasised that there is a duty on a party applying for interim interdictory relief to bring its application with conscientiousness and expedition. Had the EFF done so, the review application would most likely have already been decided.
The court held that the EFF created its own urgency in the case, adopting a timetable to suit itself and failed to place all relevant facts before the court to support a case of true urgency. The court ordered the EFF to pay costs.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.