SONA Drama Part 2: Zuma and Malema respond

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 13, 2015

President Jacob Zuma has said that the correct protocol was followed, after his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last night, was thrown into disarray when members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were forcibly removed after insisting that he answer as to when he is prepared to pay back the money spend on upgrades at Nkandla.

Speaking at a post-SONA breakfast briefing in Johannesburg earlier this morning, Zuma said that the events were unexpected and that “out-of-the-ordinary” measures had been installed.

“If you think you are more important than the country....like parliament for example...and the presiding officer then we have a problem,” News24 quoted him as saying.

He added that the offers had taken the right steps to restore order, and that it was clear that the EFF wanted to disrupt proceedings, after leader Julius Malema, last month warned that the party will take action if Zuma doesn’t come clean on when he is prepared to pay back the money.

“We tried to answer the question to help the members understand. These people not prepared to listen. This is a time for Parliament to apply the rules more strictly. Yesterday's behaviour turns Parliament into a playground.”

Opposition parties have meanwhile accused the government of turning the country into a police state after Speaker Baleka Mbete, called on parliamentary security to remove the protesting EFF MP’s from the National Assembly, who had refused her call to sit down.

Addressing the media outside Parliament shortly after his party’s removal, Malema said it has become clear that the ANC has resulted to using security measures when they cannot answers questions politically, and that the EFF will continue holding Zuma accountable.

He also added that the party had it on good authority that members of the presidential protection unit had been involved with their removal, and not just members of the Parliamentary security.

“When we were scuffling with them outside [the chambers], they asked us not to fight back because they are police and that fighting back would mean fighting with a law-enforcement officers. That’s how we came to an understanding”.

Responding to a journalist’s question, Malema said the debacle was a “sad day that elected representatives were allowed to be beaten by police” and that certain members of the party has sustained injuries at the hands of the officials.

“[Party MP] Renelwe Mashabela was held by no-less than seven men, one of them beating her on the face with a shoe. They kept her in a corner where we could not see her and continued to assault her,” he said, adding that she had been taken to hospital and that seven members had sustained injuries.

Asked what the incident meant for democracy, Malema said the actions were a directed threat but that the party would continue to participate “until this executive takes Parliament seriously”.

“We are not going to stop to demand answers from the number tsotsi and everywhere else where meet number one tsotsi, we will ask him questions, whether they beat us up or not, we will continue to ask relevant questions, when is Zuma paying back the money”.

 

CAPTION: EFF leader Julius Malema outside Parliament shortly after the party had been removed by, what he claims, to be members of the presidential protection unit. IMAGE sourced from eNCA twitter (@diannehawker)

 

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