Feast-show in SA Parliament as Zuma Addresses Nation
Punches have been thrown in South Africa’s parliament as opposition MPs tried to disrupt the State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma.
Members of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters’ party (EFF), all dressed in red, scuffled with security guards who ejected them from the chamber.
Zuma had twice got to his feet but was shouted down by EFF MPs.
Outside parliament, police used stun grenades to disperse opposition and government supporters.
Zuma has been dogged by allegations of corruption and cronyism and widely criticised for his handling of the economy.
Previous addresses by him have been marred by MPs demanding his resignation.
As Zuma entered parliament in Cape Town on Thursday he was met by chants of “thief” by EFF MPs, who included their firebrand leader Julius Malema.
Members of the governing African National Congress (ANC) countered them by chanting “ANC, ANC”.
Amid raised voices and chaotic scenes, Speaker Baleka Mbete tried to deal with repeated interruptions and procedural questions.
Malema called Zuma “an incorrigible man rotten to the core”.
He also turned on the speaker, telling her: “Your conduct has failed you. You are irrational, impatient, partisan.”
Ms Mbete told the protesting MPs: “We have been patient with you, we have been trying to give you an opportunity to express yourselves but… it is being abused.”
Security guards were called in and the EFF members were forcibly ejected. Members of another opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, then walked out, saying President Zuma was unqualified to hold office.
A smiling President Zuma said “Finally” as he resumed his address, speaking about the economy and other issues.