CLASHES IN SOUTH AFRICA PARLIAMENT DURING PRESIDENT ZUMA’S STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
February 10, 2017 | Uhuruspirit
EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi struggles with members of the parliamentary security service while EFF MPs are ejected on Thursday.
Violence erupted in South Africa Parliament on Thursday night when President Jacob Zuma rose to deliver the 2017 State of the Nation Address. An eagerly awaited speech, since the head of state has never been so much challenged not only by the opposition, but also within his own party. The year 2016 was particularly difficult for Jacob Zuma, mired in scandals and attempts to unseat him.
For over an hour, President Zuma tried to speak, but the opposition would not let it happen. Julius Malema and other lawmakers from his opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) refused to recognize the head of state, saying that he has violated the constitution and has no place in parliament.
Zuma had earlier authorized more than 400 soldiers to join the security team outside the building during the speech, an unprecedented move his opponents described as a "militarization" of parliament.
Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters that soldiers were on standby but had not been deployed on the streets.
After appeals to allow President Zuma to speak went unheeded, Speaker Baleka Mbete ordered the parliamentary security service to forcibly eject the EFF contingent. There were exchange of blows and total pandemonium as the 25 25 EFF MPs were violently expelled from the Chamber.
Following the ejection of EFF members, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), Mmusi Maimane, and his members walked out from the parliament, saying that he would not be part of a parliament which had been militarised.
Lawmakers from the Democratic Alliance, the country's biggest opposition group, then walked out in protest. Some members of the ruling African National Congress party heckled them as they left.
"Out! Out!" they shouted.
"Finally," said a laughing Zuma, who then started an annual address on the economy and other national matters.
Zuma's speech was an intervention centered on the economy and the need for radical economic and social transformation.
Zuma took issue with the distribution of wealth in a domestic economy still mostly controlled by whites more than two decades after apartheid ended in 1994.
"Political freedom is incomplete without economic emancipation," he said.
"Today we are starting a new chapter of radical socio-economic transformation. We are saying that we should move beyond words, to practical programs."
The opposition, meanwhile, held a press conference outside Parliament to denounce the violence.
"We are ready to leave this Parliament in a coffin"
"We are not going to accept a parliament where kleptomania is put on an estate and is protected by these deputies," insisted Julius Malema, leader of the EFF. We do not care if they have the majority or not. If they are wrong, they are wrong. (...) We are ready to leave this Parliament in a coffin if necessary, but we will fight for the truth, we will not be intimidated by the police, by soldiers, by criminals. "
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane told journalists outside the parliament that he would approach the courts.
“The Constitution of this Republic makes it clear that the army and the police cannot enter this chamber. Inside there, they pulled teargas, and they protected Jacob Zuma using the military and police. It has become quite clear that Parliament is now a broken institution and that (Speaker) Baleka Mbete is simply there to protect Jacob Zuma,” Maimane said.
“We will be in court tomorrow applying for a review application. Let us stand up for the Constitution of the Republic.”
Maimane said he would not be part of a Parliament which had been militarised.
“There was teargas in the gallery where all our guests were. Teargas was deployed in the gallery of Parliament. This is a serious matter which violates the very essence of our Constitution. It can’t be,” said Maimane.
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