There were chaotic scenes inside the chamber of the South African Parliament on Thursday evening as President Zuma attended a sitting to present the State of the Nation address.
Tensions had been rising ahead of the session as Zuma ordered over 400 soldiers to help maintain law and order during the event. That order was subsequently rescinded after opposition parties strongly protested.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) were led out of the chamber by their leader Mmusi Maimane minutes after the militant leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were ejected from the chamber on the orders of the Speaker of the Parliament.
Each time when I come here, I am abused by members of your parliament, because instead of answering questions I sit here being called a criminal, a thief. I think this house must do something about it.
The EFF members continually refused to allow the President to speak describing him as “illegal” and as a person who was in breach of the consitution. They disrupted President Jacob Zuma’s address before being ejected but the event continued after they were thrown out.
EFF Official Account (@EFFSouthAfrica) February 9, 2017
President Jacob Zuma presented his last State of the Nation address as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). This address was his first since he complained to the Speaker about abuse he faces at Parliament every time he appeared.
He sought the “protection” of the speaker sometime last year after he was heckled when he appeared before the House to present the 2016 SONA and during every question session.
“Each time when I come here, I am abused by members of your parliament, because instead of answering questions I sit here being called a criminal, a thief. I think this house must do something about it,” he said in parliament.
At Zuma’s address in 2015, parliamentary security guards disguised as waiters physically removed EFF members from the chamber.