EFF threatens court action if political spaces aren't reopened

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The EFF in Senekal.
The EFF in Senekal.
Mlungisi Louw
  • The EFF calls for the reopening of the political space in South Africa.
  • It says it will approach the courts if this is not done.
  • It argues it is undemocratic not to allow political gatherings with the looming local government elections.

The EFF has called for the "reopening of political space in South Africa", and has said failure to do so will see them approach the courts to challenge the constitutionality of the ban on political gatherings under lockdown regulations.

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"The EFF calls for the reopening of political space in South Africa. The reopening will entail that all political parties are allowed to hold political gatherings, physically attend municipal councils, legislatures and Parliament," read a statement by the party.

"This should happen with strict compliance to the necessary health protocols to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It is now almost 12 months since South African political spaces have been restricted whilst government officials continue to engage in programmes that necessitate closer oversight and scrutiny."

The EFF noted that many workplaces, "including huge factories and mines are presently reopened and many even have larger numbers of people".

"So it is irrational to continue shutting down the political space. We therefore demand that all political spaces be reopened so that we can engage in programmes and activities that will hold government accountable."

The party is currently engaged in a process to have the 2021 local government elections postponed but said it appears the elections will take place before the end of November.

"To disallow political programmes and activities is therefore undemocratic and irrational because political parties are not allowed to prepare for elections freely and fairly. Denying political parties to freely campaign for elections is unconstitutional and violates the essence of a democratic order.

"We will write to the State President (sic) to demand the immediate reopening of the political space so that we are all allowed to engage in the necessary political programmes and activities to challenge the status quo.

"Refusal to do so will necessitate that we take additional steps, including approaching the courts, to challenge the constitutionality of closing the political space while many people are gathering in workplaces, malls, restaurants and religious gatherings. We will do so because denying people the right to democratically challenge the sitting government is an affront to the Constitution and democratic order."

This stance appears to be a sudden change of heart for the EFF.

At President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 11 February, no EFF MPs were present in the National Assembly chamber for the joint sitting, and they participated in last week's debate on SONA through the virtual platform.

While the EFF said it intended to go to court if their demand wasn't met, at the SONA debate its leader Julius Malema made unsubstantiated claims that the judiciary received funds from the CR17 campaign, echoing a claim by corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma, with whom he had tea recently.

The party also propagated for strict hard lockdown measures last year whenever government relaxed some regulations.

However, Malema was seen partying in December last year when the second wave of infections began.

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