This well-publicised case highlights some serious concerns in the way that state-owned entities work (or don’t work, as the case may be). And highlights once again how important and, indeed, indispensable, our courts and the all-important Constitution are in upholding the law and ensuring justice is served in South Africa. In the matter of South African Broadcasting Corporation Soc Ltd and Others v Democratic Alliance and Others (2015) 4 All SA 719 (SCA) the court was asked to consider the powers of the Office of the Public Protector.
Who can forget that fateful day of the 2015 State of the Nation Address when the Economic Freedom Fighters were forcibly removed from the National Assembly? In authorising the brutal ejectment of the EFF from the National Assembly, the speaker relied on an Act of Parliament bearing the rather long-winded name of “Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act”. In brief, section 11 of this Act permits the speaker to order a staff member or member of the security forces to arrest and remove any person creating a disturbance during a parliamentary sitting. The significance and sheer breadth of this clause was brought home to the people of South Africa in the circulation of alarming images of the violent, no-holds-barred approach adopted by the security forces during the eviction of the EFF.
The year: 2015
The event: State of the Nation Address
The issue: Use of jamming devices by Parliament
The reason: Preventing the South African public from witnessing the spectacle that was about to unfold
The 2015 SONA will go down as one of the most interesting, and disturbing in living memory. Can you remember what President Zuma said in his address? Nope? Me neither. Can you remember what went down that day? Yup. That was the day that the Economic Freedom Fighters were forcibly removed from the National Assembly for disrupting the proceedings. But an equally troubling issue transpired just before that, when it came to light that a jamming device had been deployed. Using a modus operandi that bore frightening similarities to the methods deployed by the pre-1994 Nationalist government, the ANC-led Parliament planned to a) use force and brutality to gain acquiescence; and b) use technology to ensure the South African public didn’t witness all the gory details.