Will The EFF Disrupt the State Of The Nation Address?

February 7, 2019
| Report Focus News
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 21: EFF Members of Parliament in the National Assembly on August 21, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. EFF members disrupted proceedings while President Jacob Zuma was answering questions in Parliament. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had to adjourn the House following a stand-off between ANC and EFF members. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have become a political party synonymous with disrupting proceedings in parliament. This being an election year much is expected to happen today as President Ramaphosa presents SONA.

Disruption and belligerence have become synonymous with brand EFF, It has become their signature. In what some political observers viewed as rare and unusual moments last year Malema and his EFF comrades beamed benevolence in Ramaphosa’s direction. But that is not to be expected this year as this is an election year. The EFF have more reason to prove to their base that they are still the firebrands who hounded Zuma. 

The DA might have also compounded the situation as they have been on a negative campaign trail in which they have portrayed a picture of ANC and EFF in cahoots. This further aggravates the EFF and puts much impetus in the EFF to want a confrontation with the ANC’s president in order to create some clear blue water between them and the ANC, which will undermine the DA’s negative campaigning suggesting ANC to be in bed with EFF. 

It will be foolhardy to believe that the EFF will display benevolence at today’s SONA. Nothing suggests that the EFF has abandoned their plan to “question” Ramaphosa on Bosasa. They will probably hound Ramaphosa in similar fashion to what they did Zuma.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi confirmed to the media that nothing changed since they issued their warning. So, it would be surprising if the EFF doesn’t do anything shortly after 19:00 on today.

Being ejected from Parliament during SONA will allow the EFF to play the role of martyrs, a role they play well and which is essential for budding populist Malema to prove that he is an oppressed outsider.    
There are thus clearly enough reasons for the EFF to continue to sow their brand of mayhem even at today’s SONA.

It will be interesting to see to what extent they take it. If they refuse to budge and the bouncers make an unwelcome appearance to throw them out, they will automatically be suspended from parliamentary proceedings for five days, meaning they will not be allowed to participate in next week’s debate on SONA. If they leave on their own accord, as they did in 2016, this won’t happen. Getting kicked out will score them full marks in the martyrdom stakes, but in an election year, participating in this SONA debate can be prime airtime.

However, this being an election year the EFF must consider their actions deeply and play their politics correctly. Understandably backing down from a fight they pick or start, doesn’t really seem part of the EFF modus operandi and in this instance, would look weak, rather than reasonable.