Under the African National Congress (ANC), the people’s Parliament has gradually turned into a chamber of chaos and a house of commotion.
Without mincing words, South Africans had anticipated a mild battle between Zuma and rival groups during this year’s SONA but the thickness of the pandemonium that erupted in the National Assembly on Thursday night is a clear reflection of the state of our leaders and not the state of the nation.
February 9, 2017, will be remembered as the night South African politics shifted in an even more dangerous direction.
Politics in South Africa took a different dimension from the first day the ANC pushed Julius Malema away from its camp. Yes, Malema may be a bit out of order at times but it’s glaring that he’s what South Africa needs for this country to wake up and move forward.
This year’s combative SONA could be traced to Zuma’s instructions – which spoke volume about how he had wanted the run the annual event. What more does one expect when the sitting president deployed the military to Parliament? – even after his own men spoke against it.
To an average South African, the presence of the military sent a chilling message that those who dared stand in Zuma’s way will feel the weight of the state security apparatus.
The EFF, which had earlier promised a wait-and-see action was clearly battle-ready to tackle the ‘delinquent head of state’. EFF’s spokesperson Ndlozi started by taking points of order relating to President Zuma’s breach of the Constitution in the Nkandla matter and then the alleged presence of SAPS in the National Assembly.
The Malema-led party also raised alarm about SAPS officers being ‘planted’ among the protection officers and equipped with whips and also pepper spray.
DA’s John Steenhuizen also questioned the presence of riot police and defence force in the parliamentary precinct. But Mbete shoved aside the security-related questions with undue haste. Was there something she knew that we didn’t know?
In the long run, Sona 2017 descended into chaos immediately National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete asked Julius Malema and his men to leave the house after raising a series of points of order. The fighters refused and rather requested Mbete to ask Zuma to leave because he breached the constitution.
When Mbete finally exhausted her patience, she pulled in parliamentary protection officials, known as “white shirts”. As they forcefully dragged EFF members out (and EFF members responded by throwing punches and helmets at them), ANC members sat silently while others cheered them on. What a parliament!
After the coast was cleared, an unfazed Zuma took to the podium with his customary laugh to deliver his ‘recycled’ speech. But by the time he started speaking, many of opposition MPs had left in the course of the one hour delay and he was seen speaking to mostly members of his party.
South Africans couldn’t agree more that the 2017 Sona was a night of deep shame and the man at the centre of it all couldn’t be subdued.
Watch: EFF members removed from Parliament by Parliamentary protection officers.