The real political state of South Africa was evident in the just concluded SONA 2017 as the nation was turn apart following protests by citizens amid war in the parliament.
President Jacob Zuma managed to deliver his 10th State of the Nation Address amid strong protests by some disgruntled citizens who armed themselves with sjamboksg and made their way through the city centre.
Despite the hurdles, the president made 12 promises which he looks forward to fulfilling in the next two years of his tenure. The promises include the reignition of the economy by focusing on industrialization, mining, beneficiation, agriculture, agro-processing, energy, small businesses; Maths and science subjects will be prioritized; Practicalizing a radical socioeconomic transformation among many others.
But, like in the past years, the 2017 SONA event took a U-turn as members of the parliament got themselves in fights despite the unprecedented defence force.
Flashes and bangs were seen and heard and Parliament’s protection officers jostled with opposition parties MPs to remove them from the National Assembly after the Malema-led caucus rose several times on point of orders, delaying the start of President Jacob Zuma’s speech.
Cope’s Willie Madisha was the first to be escorted out of the National Assembly after he briefly disrupted the president’s speech. It was followed by the Economic Freedom fighters MPs who seemed already prepared for war.
In fact, the EFF leader, who it was earlier assumed will not be in attendance following his academic exams, was seen practically exchanging blows with security officials at the parliament as police and soldiers gunshots raged on.
From that point on, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Thandi Modise had trouble returning sanity to the Chamber.
The EFF came down the Poorthuis stairs still fighting and throwing punches and claiming they were protecting the right of ordinary South Africans. About 30 public order police had lined up in full riot gear outside the Marks building where the EFF offices are.
Meanwhile, the DA MPs, who walked out of Parliament before Zuma began his SONA 2017 speech the second time, spoke with the media outside the house, blaming the President for planning the war in the parliament, saying the violence was “the direct result of a corrupt political party clinging onto power by using fear tactics and intimidation”.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane criticized the use of the military and slammed Zuma saying he broke the law, while the party’s chief whip John Steenhuisen described the forceful removal of the EFF as “like the 1980s” during the state of emergency during apartheid South Africa.
“The army and riot police were deployed to bully members and journalists, pepper spray was used in the Parliamentary chamber, and members of Parliament were physically assaulted and removed from the chamber,” DA’s leader Mmusi Maimane said,
“Parliament ought to be a place where the public can engage with issues facing our nation… but Jacob Zuma and his ANC planned this mayhem. Days before SONA 2017, the Parliamentary precinct, the streets surrounding, and the inner city were swamped with thousands of police officers, riot police and the military.”
The Freedom Front Plus (FFP), like the two other parties blamed Zuma for the chaos and asked how citizens could be expected to abide by the law if such misconduct could occur in the highest council chambers in the country. “This is an embarrassment”, the party ended with.