WATCH | EFF calls for De Klerk to be thrown out of SONA: 'He is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid'

The EFF returned to its tactics of disrupting the State of the Nation Address (SONA), last seen under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, when Parliament sat for the opening of both Houses on Thursday evening.

While it was expected the red berets would interrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa's 2020 SONA to call for the removal of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, it was in fact former president FW de Klerk whom the fighters first targeted.

Moments before Ramaphosa was due to start delivering his speech at around 19:00, EFF leader Julius Malema rose on a point of order and asked National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to eject De Klerk.

"Honourable speaker, we have a murderer in the House. We have a man who has got blood of innocent people in this House which is supposed to represent the will of our people and therefore it is incorrect for you to have extended an invitation to De Klerk," said Malema.

FW de Klerk
Former president FW de Klerk in the National Assembly on Thursday. (Bertram Malgas, News24)

He charged that the former president was an "unrepentant apologist of apartheid" and it was therefore an insult for those who died at Vlakplaas to have him present in a democratic Parliament.

"He is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid who is not willing to accept that apartheid was [a] crime against humanity," the EFF leader added. 

"My submission, speaker, is that, please, for us to have peaceful proceedings we should ask the commander of Vlakplaas, apartheid apologist, a man with blood on his hands to leave this Parliament because he does not belong here."

Modise, however, argued the history of the country was there for everybody and the presence of De Klerk was proper.

The speaker reiterated the sitting was called to give the president an opportunity to address the nation and for nothing else, adding all former presidents had a right to attend proceedings.

FW de Klerk
Former president FW de Klerk in the National Assembly on Thursday. (Bertram Malgas, News24)

While the points of orders went from seat to seat in the EFF section, De Klerk could be seen sitting alongside his wife looking down as EFF members called for him to leave the chambers.

Malema's call was echoed by his deputy, Floyd Shivambu.

Former IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi then called for a vote on whether the former president should leave the House, which Modise refused.

Last week, while marking the 30th anniversary of his speech unbanning the ANC, the SACP and several of their leaders, including Nelson Mandela, De Klerk gave a number of interviews in which he spoke about apartheid.

He noted that he had apologised for apartheid and that it was wrong.

In an interview with eNCA, he also said: "I sincerely believe that yes, apartheid has left marks which are still visible today and which people still feel today but to blame everything which is wrong in South Africa today after 25 years on apartheid is also not true."

As Ramaphosa rose to speak, after almost 15 minutes of back and forth, the EFF then turned its attention to Gordhan.

The red berets called for him to be fired, blaming him for the power crisis and woes at national carrier SAA.

In an unprecedented move, Modise later suspended the sitting.

MPs returned soon after and the president started delivering his speech at around 8:30pm.

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