Thabo Mbeki: What happened at Sona was troubling

Former president Thabo Mbeki has described disruptions during President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address as “troubling”.

“I think we would all of us agree that what happened in Parliament [on Thursday] was very troubling,” he was quoted as saying by British newspaper The Guardian.

During his time in Parliament, from 1994 to 2008, nothing of the nature of Thursday’s disruption had ever occurred during the state-of-the-nation-address, Mbeki said.

Three Economic Freedom Fighters MPs, including party leader Julius Malema, were told to leave the House after they persisted in trying to question Zuma about misspending on his home in Nkandla after he started delivering his state-of-the-nation address.

Security officers were called in to escort the MPs out of the National Assembly.

The Democratic Alliance walked out shortly afterwards in protest against the security officers’ presence in the National Assembly Chamber.

Zuma then resumed his speech.

Mbeki said: “My reading of the problem is the problem is political, and you don’t use administrative instruments to resolve a political problem ... If the problem is political, you’re not going to change it by quoting a rule. You’ve got to confront the political problem.

“Let’s not say: ‘You’re out of order, you can’t ask that’,” he said in what appeared to be a swipe at Speaker Baleka Mbete, who called for the removals.

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