The Economic Freedom Fighters were thrown out within the first hour of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address on Thursday, as they consistently heckled the president and raised ongoing points of orders around his speech.
The party’s caucus left the house chanting “Zupta must fall,” referencing their latest campaign to decry Zuma’s close ties with the controversial Gupta family, who have made headlines for capturing key state resources.
Zuma had barely begun speaking when EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu asked for clarity about the rules governing the address.
“He [Zuma] has stolen from us,” Malema shouted.
“We do not recognise him as our president. He is not our president,” said Malema, before starting to chant “Zupta must fall, Zupta must fall.”
He added, “You are prepared to remove a whole party which has been elected by the people … [to protect] one man.”
All the Economic Freedom Fighter MPs then stood up, fists in the air, chanting with Malema.
Speaker Baleka Mbete repeatedly insisted that questions should be asked at the official debate around the president’s State of the Nation address scheduled for next week.
She said to EFF leader Julius Malema: “Honourable Malema, I really have to prevail on you to leave the chamber.”
As they left the chamber, one MP shouted, “When we come back next time, you will not be our president.”
After they left, Zuma stood up as if nothing had happened, and continued with his speech.
However, it was Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota who became the first MP to leave the chamber after rising on a point of order and accusing Zuma of having lost all honour and betraying the Constitution. – Additional reporting by African News Agency and News24