South African President, Jacob Zuma, has bemoaned what he described as ‘unbecoming behaviour’ displayed by some Members of Parliament (MPs) in the country’s legislature.
He said the shocking conduct of parliamentarians during his State of the Nation address a week ago, ‘‘traumatised millions of South Africans.’‘ His comment is in reference to scuffles that broke out between the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and parliament security.
The EFF members refused to allow Zuma to deliver his address claiming that he had abused his oath of office and was not fit to address legislators. The speaker ordered their removal resulting in violent scenes on the floor of the parliament.
As adults, we can disagree ideologically, but we should not lose track of the national interest.
Zuma was back in the house on Thursday to respond to the debate on his address. He took the opportunity to entreat MPs to respect the parliament and to use proper channels to express their grievances.
Whiles conceding that majority of the MPs understood the seriousness of their duties, he said ‘‘some MPs have decided to treat this august House like something worse than a beer hall.
‘‘We again appeal to those MPs and parties that have taken a decision to cause mayhem in the House to use available democratic mechanisms to express themselves, within the bounds of decency and decorum. As adults, we can disagree ideologically, but we should not lose track of the national interest,’‘ he added.
Sometime last year, Zuma had cause to complain to the leadership of the house that he was not happy the way he is heckled especially by the EFF.
“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, but this is the first time soldiers will be deployed as security rather than a ceremonial role.