Parliament welcomes EFF decision to abandon application to have MPs physically present at SONA

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Parliament says it welcomes the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) decision to abandon its urgent High Court application to have all members of parliament physically present during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday.

It challenged the matter in High Court in Cape Town. The EFF’s court bid came after Parliament decided to host SONA through a hybrid sitting which requires some MPs to attend it virtually.

Sona will be hosted for the first time outside the parliamentary precinct. This follows the destruction of the National Assembly Chamber (NAC) after a fire gutted the Old and New National Assembly buildings more than a month ago.

SONA will be hosted at the City Hall where President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation through a Joint Sitting of Parliament.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo says, “As a matter of fact and law, the EFF was incorrect to assert in its founding affidavit that MPs have a legal right to be physically present at SONA because the Rules of Parliament allow for both virtual and physical attendance of sittings.”

“Due to the format of SONA, it is not necessary that MPs attend in person as there are no deliberations and MPs are not given the opportunity to put questions to the President,” says Mothapo.

“Parliament has, since the inception of the national state of disaster, adapted in the way it functions. It has adopted rules for both normal and joint sittings of both Houses, which now make allowance for hybrid formats,” he adds.

Mothapo says the EFF did not challenge these rules, but instead, it sought relief which clearly contravened the rules.

In the video below, Cape Town hands over City Hall ahead of preparations for the SONA: