SONA Drama Part 3: Parties condemn network blocking

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 13, 2015

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, has accused State Security Minister David Mahlobo of blocking the network feed to Parliament, which set off a chain reaction leading to his party being thrown out of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last night.

Proceedings were delayed for over 15 minutes shortly after Zuma’s arrival in Parliament, when Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, questioned National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on why the cellphone feed had been jammed, with the party’s Parliamentary’s leader, Mmusi Maimane, saying that the they would not hesitate in taking Parliament to court if the blocking device was not removed. Journalists reportadley lost signal the moment they entered the chambers.

A number of them then started chanting bring back the signal whilst waving their phones at an electronic box believed to be the blocker. According to Times Media, two Sapa journalists were “hanging” out of a second storey window in order to gain network access while male journalists could only file their reports from the bathroom.

The device’s eventual removal was followed by EFF Secretary General, Godrich Gardee, interrupting Zuma a few minutes into his speech on when and how he is prepared to back a portion of the R246-million spent on security upgrades at his private Nkandla home. A shouting match between Mbete and Malema ensued with the Speaker calling in Parliamentary security after the EFF had refused to leave the National Assembly.

Speaking in a statement, ANC Spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, said that party condemns the use of the jamming device while the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), described the blocking as censoring the media.

 

CAPTION: EFF (red) and DA (black) MP's chant pay back the signal after it was reported that the cellphone signal had been blocked shortly before President Jacob Zuma's was due to give his SONA  IMAGE sourced from eNCA

 

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