EFF heckling ends Jacob Zuma question session

2014-08-21 16:47

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has adjourned a session in which MPs could put questions to President Jacob Zuma after the sitting descended into chaos.

Mbete ordered MPs to vacate the chamber after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs, dressed in red overalls, started chanting “pay back the money” to Zuma, referring to the R246 million worth of security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

EFF MPs refused to leave the House after they were ordered to, prompting Mbete to order a break.

EFF MPs refused to leave even after the police were called in and the doors were locked.

Journalists were also asked to leave the House but some resisted and continued to tweet from within the chamber.

After about an hour, the National Assembly reconvened, with EFF MPs still inside. Mbete announced that Zuma had left.

“We allowed the president to proceed with the work of his office and we will relook what opportunity we will next have for him to come and finish the work of the House.

“But South Africa knows the president was here to perform his constitutional duty and was not given the opportunity to finish off. And therefore at this point we want to adjourn the sitting for the rest of the day.”

She also implied that she would consult on what steps to take next.

“But we have agreed with the office of the president to finish off questions to the president.”

The chaos started halfway into the sitting, after the third question, asked by EFF leader Julius Malema, on when Zuma would respond to the Public Protector’s report into the security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

Zuma replied that he had already submitted his reply last week, but EFF MPs said that reply wasn’t sufficient.

“It is the government that decides (who pays for the upgrades and how much) and the matter is referred to people who are legally authorised to make that determination,” he said

ANC and EFF MPs started bickering about points of order after EFF MPs heckled Zuma. EFF MP Floyd Shivambu insisted that Zuma answer the EFF’s question as Mbete tried to give UDM leader Bantu Holomisa a turn to ask a question.

Shivambu kept on heckling, with Mbete threatening to throw him out if he did not sit down.

EFF MPs refused to leave the chamber and kept on chanting “pay back the money”. Mbete called security and asked MPs to “vacate” the chamber so that Parliament could “deal with this matter”.

Zuma, who was at one point seen repeatedly flicking his tongue over his lips, left before Mbete ordered MPs to leave the chamber.

There were three questions left to Zuma, including when the Khoi and San would be recognised as indigenous leaders, when he would decide on a special pardon to those still in jail for apartheid crimes, and who were in his delegation to the recent US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC.

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