Pandemonium in Parliament

2017-02-10 09:54
Riot police move in to form a wall between Economic Freedom Fighters and ANC supporters outside Parliamenton Thursday evening.

Riot police move in to form a wall between Economic Freedom Fighters and ANC supporters outside Parliamenton Thursday evening. (AP)

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Pandemnium in Parliament delayed President Jacob Zuma’s stumbling State of the Nation Address by more than an hour last night as the so-called “white shirts” forcibly removed EFF members.

The EFF did not go peacefully, but used their hard hats and fists on security officers, who retaliated as the female members shrieked and swore, glass broke, a gas was sprayed and water spilled in the National Assembly.

Outside Parliament the struggle between EFF MPs and security guards continued as heavily armed riot police carrying shields created a wall between Parliament and protesters.

The DA complained about “a tear gas type” of substance being sprayed in the house and after the Sona, the chair of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Thandi Modise, apologised for the spray used in the Assembly.

“It should not have happened in this Parliament. We cannot allow it to happen again,” she said.

With his blood clearly up outside Parliament, EFF leader Julius Malema said the party would not allow “a kleptocracy through Parliament”.

Malema said the ANC’s majority would make no difference, “when they are wrong, they are wrong. We cannot allow a situation where there was a decision by the Constitutional Court [in the Nkandla verdict] and there are no consequences”.

Malema said if the EFF allowed this, they would make the Constitutional Court useless in the same way the ANC had made the office of the public protector useless and undermined her recommendations in her Nkandla report.

“We are willing to leave Parliament in a coffin for the truth. We will not be intimidated by soldiers, the police, by criminals who are determined to protect a constitutional criminal,” said Malema.

Shock grenades echoed through the Cape Town streets as public order officers tried to control especially EFF supporters who were on their way to an ANC rally at the parade.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who also left Parliament with all the DA MPs, said the DA will today submit a high court application against Parliament because the Constitution was violated.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen stood to protest the presence of soldiers armed with R4 assault rifles and the heavily armed members of the riot police on the premises of Parliament.

He said no democracy should see what the country saw last night. Pointing to Zuma, he said: “That man has broken Parliament”.

After the EFF was forced out of the assembly and the DA left in an orderly line, Agang MP Andries Tlouamma stood up to put on record that what happened last night in Parliament was not democracy.

He asked if the members were willing to sacrifice all the principles that they had fought for, for one man — the president.

“This chaos was caused because you [ANC MPs] are afraid of him,” Tlouamma said, before he left amid jeering from ANC MPs.

Zuma’s reaction to the pandemonium and fisticuffs that rapidly went viral and weakened the rand by seven cents to the dollar was a hearty laugh before he started reading his prepared speech.

Speaking after exiting Parliament, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said that the DA had no choice but to walk out, though she respected that Parliament should be allowed to continue business.

Expressing frustration with Zuma, she said the DA had tried in the past to get Zuma removed through motions of no confidence, which had been unsuccessful.

“We need to get rid of Zuma legally,” she said.

Also outside Parliament, Steenhuisen described the forced removal of the EFF as “like the 1980s” during an apartheid South Africa state of emergency.

“The full-speed removal of the EFF was done with excessive force that was not justifiable.

“It is unacceptable to be treated in that manner. The precinct has been turned into a police and military state.”

Steenhuisen said the situation could not continue to deteriorate.

“We need a time of introspection, to look at what is wrong.

Read more on:    parliamant  |  pietermaritzbrug  |  sona 2017

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