Hard hats and water bottles fly as EFF are removed from Zuma Q&A
Parliament went in to lockdown on Tuesday when members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were again forcibly removed for trying to block President Jacob Zuma answering questions in the National Assembly.
The latest incident comes after the party were barred from all Parliamentary activates earlier this month for not allowing Zuma to speak during the Presidency budget vote.
Protesting MP’s were subsequently removed by Parliamentary Security with most of the country’s opposition parties bar the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), opting to boycott proceedings the following day in protest against Zuma.
Moments after being called to the stand by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, EFF MP Hlengiwe Maxon rose on a point of order to enquire why Mbete had been ignoring their letters asking that the President not address them in light of the Constitutional Court ruling two months ago.
“How long are you going to continue with this thing allowing him to be here? He has broken his office and he was must be charged. Please let us debate this matter… President Zuma must not speak in Parliament unless you do something,” she said.
Mbete retaliated by stating that no basis exists for Zuma not to appear Parliament, adding that the EFF’s application on the matter had also been dismissed by the courts.
EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu then jumped up to accuse her of misleading the House on the order with Mbete again reiterating that no basis exists preventing the President from addressing the National Assembly.
MP’s however continued raising points of order unrecognised with Mbete warning that those who persist on disrupting the House will be asked to leave. With the shouting continuing, African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu intervened by accusing the EFF of being disrespectful to the President and Parliament’s Programming Community.
Rebuking Mthembu’s remarks, EFF leader Julius Malema then stood up but was told to sit down with Mbete remarking, “The rules of the House are going to be respected, therefore I appeal to you to abandon your campaign of trying to get the President not to speak because he is going to speak”.
Repeating Maxon’s earlier remarks, Malema said it has become worrying that Parliament sees no problem in allowing Zuma to appear before members, and that the National Assembly would be reducing the court’s rule to nothing if the President is allowed to speak.
“No one has been disciplined or fired… it is unacceptable… on this basis we are asking to you Speaker not to allow the President to speak until he has been rehabilitated”.
Mbete overruled his request, resulting in EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Shivambu jumping up to defend Malema.
“You must be disciplined… you ask us to abide by the rules but you don’t. We did not agree for a President who broke his oath of office to address us,” Ndlozi shouted while ignoring Mbete’s call for him to vacate the Chamber.
With the shouting intensifying and MP’s on their feet, Mbete called for the Serjeant-at-Arms to intervene with Malema shouting, “Zuma is the one who must go, we are not leaving this House” before remaking, “Serjeant-at-Arms, tell Zuma to go”.
“You can kill us here today with your bouncers, we are not going anywhere,” Malema yelled with MP’s then taking a jibe at an ANC MP who had risen on a point of order. Again ignoring Mbete’s reading of the rules and pleas to withdraw, members began singing struggle songs, causing her to call for Parliamentary Security.
Proceedings then turned ugly when MP’s proceeded to pelt security with hard hats, water bottles and glasses, while overs used their fits to try and avoid removal. The skirmish escalated outside with a metal pole being used causing a glass door to crack, with some even using fire extinguishers to fend security off.
The wooden doors outside the National Assembly chamber were subsequently closed, preventing EFF members from entering and locking other members in.
“The state has power to unleash terror on us. We only have our lives; therefore, we are going to put our lives in defence of the Constitution. Zuma will never find peace in this Parliament,” Malema told the media outside Parliament.
“Zuma is not a legitimate President of the Republic of South Africa. We cannot be led by a man who has failed to uphold, defend and protect the constitution. We are not scared… we will fight with everything we have. Whether it is a negative image for Parliament or not, you will thank us once we restore the dignity of this Parliament by removing Zuma”.
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