EFF sparks Sona chaos
A State of the Nation address was for the first time suspended last night when President Cyril Ramaphosa’s attempt to deliver his speech was continously interrupted by members of the EFF.
Speaker Modise halts proceedings after more then an hour of disruptions.
Led by Julius Malema, a grandstanding Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) parliamentary caucus turned last night’s State of the Nation address (Sona) by President Cyril Ramaphosa into a farce by forcing an unprecedented suspension of parliamentary business before Ramaphosa had uttered a word.
The decision by Speaker Thandi Modise to ring the bell in the House of Assembly to halt the session came after a nonstop series of points of order and interjections by the red-overalled EFF MPs.
The EFF contingent was prepared for conflict; as they entered parliament, they sang Sofa gijima (We are not shaken)”.
“If we perish then we perish,” the EFF tweeted before heading to parliament yesterday.
Once inside the house, the EFF, with their newly minted 44 seats, let rip with both barrels – an attack first on the presence of former president FW de Klerk, whom EFF leader Julius Malema labelled a “murderer”, and then on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, whom the EFF said should be fired for plunging the country into darkness through Eskom’s load shedding.
Malema said about De Klerk: “We have a man who has got blood on his hands in this house which is supposed to represent the wills of our people.”
Other EFF MPs rose to make similar objections to De Klerk having been invited, but they were ruled against by Modise.
“Delaying the business of this house on the matter of former president De Klerk is not going to help us, so may I suggest I will not take any further points of order on this matter,” Modise said.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi proposed that the matter of De Klerk should be put to the vote, which was seconded by EFF deputy Floyd Shivambu.
Modise then dug her heels in and said she had made a ruling and there would be no vote.
“I made a ruling, that matter is closed,” Modise said.
The EFF then turned on Gordhan, saying he should be fired by Ramaphosa.
For more than an hour, the chaos continued, with Ramaphosa rising on a number of occasions to begin his speech but then being shouted down by the EFF.
Time and again, MPs from the ANC, Democratic Alliance and IFP rose to ask the speaker to protect their constitutional rights as MPs, and the rights of other
South Africans, to listen to the President’s speech.
Buthelezi and the DA’s Natasha Mazzone pointed out that the EFF were transgressing by interfering with the right of the house to listen the speech of the president.”
While most in the chamber expected Modise to deploy the parliamentary security service to forcibly object the rowdy EFF group, Modise suddenly and unexpectedly announced the suspension and MPs left the chamber.
Modise’s words summed up the proceedings: “South Africa is not very proud of us tonight...”
RABBLE-ROUSERS. Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters on the red carpet before the annual State of the Nation address and opening of the national parliament in Cape Town yesterday.
UNDER FIRE. Former president FW de Klerk, second left, and his wife Elita, left, with Amos Masondo, second right, National Council of Provinces chairperson, and Thandi Modise, Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, in Cape Town yesterday.