South African opposition MPs disrupt president's speech

Annual state of the nation speech by Jacob Zuma interrupted by deputies heckling, throwing water bottles

South African opposition MPs disrupt president's speech

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Africa’s National Assembly descended into chaos Thursday night as security officials wrestled with opposition MPs they were trying to remove for disrupting an annual address by the president.

Members of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF) had been disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s important state of the nation address for over an hour with heckling when House Speaker Baleka Mbete ordered their removal.

Party members were seen throwing water bottles at security officials whom they scuffled with for some minutes before they were finally thrown out.

“Zuma must address us in prison, not in parliament,” Malema chanted as he was thrown out with his 25 fellow EFF deputies.

Malema said Zuma is an illegitimate president who should not be allowed to address parliament because the Constitutional Court found him guilty of abusing his oath of office in 2016.

“It’s Zuma who must leave the house,” he told the speaker after being ordered to leave.

The court ruled Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution when he refused to repay some of the millions in public money he used to upgrade his personal home.

The EFF, the third-largest party in parliament, has on many occasions disrupted Zuma’s speeches, heckling him over alleged scandals and corruption.

After removal of the heckling deputies, the main opposition Democratic Alliance marched out of parliament in protest. Its leader Mmusi Maimane said it was wrong for the president to deploy hundreds of police and military officers to guard areas surrounding parliament.

But in a statement, Zuma’s office said the move was aimed at maintaining law and order during the opening of parliament, where violent protests have been previously common.

Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is the majority party in Parliament. Zuma, whose second term ends in 2019, has faced a number of corruption allegations which could taint his legacy.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Şubat 2017, 00:47