EFF ‘circus’ becomes contagion as MPs heckle Malema

Members of Parliament clashed again during the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Tuesday, with Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and ANC MPs coming to verbal blows during continuous points of order. 

ANC MPs seemed to take a leaf from the EFF caucus in continually interrupting Malema during his speech, at one point accusing the red beret leader of abusing his wife, Mantoa Malema.

A defiant Malema said he would use parliamentary rules to ensure his speech is heard and not be heckled off the podium. “No one is going to tell me what to do. I’m in charge. That is why these fools are running around … There’s nothing you can do: in this house, I’m in charge.”

I will leave the house now. But the fact remains: Nomazizi must rest in peace — she was abused by your president

Julius Malema

Malema denied being an abuser, instead taking aim at the president and accusing him of abusing his deceased wife.

Tempers reached boiling point when Malema was ordered to leave the chamber after he refused to withdraw comments relating to Ramaphosa’s alleged abuse of his former wife. 


“I will leave the house now. But the fact remains: Nomazizi must rest in peace — she was abused by your president, “ Malema said while leaving the podium. 

It is unlikely Malema would be challenged for his remarks, because he is protected by parliamentary privilege. 

FW De Klerk furore

Addressing the furore over apartheid’s last president and his presence at the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, Malema accused the ANC of cow-towing to the former statesman.

Last week, the EFF led a call protesting FW De Klerk’s presence at Parliament.

As a former deputy president under a democratic dispensation, De Klerk’s invitation to Sona is standard. 

On Monday, De Klerk acknowledged that apartheid was a crime against humanity, after earlier denying that the system of oppression constituted crimes against humanity. 

“There is nothing that De Klerk does in terms of nation-building. Many of you are scared to confront this question because De Klerk has your force numbers. You were spies and you are scared when you take De Klerk head-on; your files of being spies will be released,” Malema said.

The ANC also made its voice heard on De Klerk. Deputy ANC chief whip Doris Dlakude said his initial remarks were not in the best interest of the country. 

“The statement that was made by the second former deputy president was unfortunate, insensitive and reckless. He should have known that the United Nations flagged apartheid as a crime against humanity. Such statements have a tendency to sow the seeds of hatred, racialism, division and promotion of superiority amongst citizens of this country,” she said. 

Throughout proceedings, MPs took potshots at each other while trying to nitpick the president’s policy announcements. 

The DA’s response on unemployment

Leader of the opposition in Parliament, John Steenhuisen of the Democratic Alliance (DA), targeted Ramaphosa’s overall record since coming into office in 2018, saying that unemployment and economic growth has worsened under Ramaphosa’s watch. 

“Since you delivered your first Sona speech in this house two years ago, well over a million more people have joined the ranks of the unemployed. This number now stands at almost 10.4-million working-age South Africans. I am not going to stand here and say that this happened on your watch, Mister President. That would be far too kind. It didn’t just happen on your watch, it happened by your own hand. You, sir, put us in this situation,” Steenhuisen said. 

The interim DA leader said South Africans want tangible answers to the country’s woes, and not grand plans and fantasies. 

“You talk of building a smart city in Lanseria when you can’t even keep the lights on in our existing cities. The gap between what you dream of in Sona and what you can deliver grows wider and wider every year. South Africans don’t want fantasies. They want to know how we are going to get through this crisis we’re in,” he said. “Thursday evening was your moment, honourable president, and you blew it. You wasted your last good chance to lead us to the new dawn you once promised.”

‘The ideas of one person’

The most raucous reception was left for Malema, who returned to the National Assembly chamber after leading a walkout of his MPs during Sona. 

Although the national address was delayed by almost 90 minutes because of the EFF’s protestations, the EFF leader praised Parliament’s presiding officers, National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo. 

“The two of you understood that this is a democratic Parliament. And any view that suggests that the view of the minority should never be entertained is undemocratic. The nature of democracy is that we listen to all ideas, even if it is the ideas of one person,” Malema said. 

Following the EFF’s outbursts, MPs from most political parties called for the 44-member caucus to be censured for the disruptions. 

Malema laughed off suggestions that the EFF be referred to Parliament’s powers and privileges committee and be fined for the upheaval. 

“I heard one say they want to amend the rules. The problem is, Mister President, is that your comrades don’t read the rules,” Malema said. 

MPs enter into another day of debate on Wednesday before the president responds to the critiques on Thursday.


Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

Related stories

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard

Editorial: Political meddling won’t save the SABC

For years, in moves that harked back to the repressive regime of the Nats, the public broadcaster has been used by the party as its political football in internal factional battles, or to censor dissent.

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

Ramaphosa: We want investment pledges to translate into new jobs

To move out of South Africa’s economic funk, Ramaphosa is prioritising the materialisation of pledges made at the previous investment conferences.

Government gets $2bn more in pledges towards infrastructure development

The New Development Bank pledges billions of dollars towards infrastructure development in South Africa. Implementing infrastructure development is one of the measures the country is counting on to recover from the economic effects of Covid-19
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Football legend Maradona dies

The Argentinian icon died at his home on Wednesday, two weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain

Covid vaccines: Hope balanced with caution

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights

Under cover of Covid, Uganda targets LGBTQ+ shelter

Pandemic rules were used to justify a violent raid on a homeless shelter in Uganda, but a group of victims is pursuing a criminal case against the perpetrators
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…