In some ways, it was Groundhog Day SA: previous SONAs on repeat, but now with even more added violence and drama. MARELISE VAN DER MERWE rounded up some of the most memorable insults, promises and explanations from the lead-up, the event, and its inevitable aftermath.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, say it in Parliament
Sitting in front of us is an incorrigible man, rotten to the core. He must address the nation from prison. – Julius Malema, EFF
Your conduct has failed you to be a candidate for president because you are irrational, you are impatient, you are partisan. – Malema to Speaker Baleka Mbete
This man has broken South Africa. You are breaking Parliament… This is a complete disgrace. – John Steenhuisen (DA) to Mbete
He used you. He promised you [that] you were going to be a president, you went home and slaughtered a cow, and he dumped you. He dumped you! – Malema to Mbete
In English it is called a scoundrel. In our mother tongue it’s called imenemene. We cannot hold lemenemene as a role model. – Mosiuoa Lekota, COPE
441 soldiers will not protect you. Your problem is not outside, it’s inside! Here. – Malema
Well, that was a bit of an EFF-up
The rules of Parliament are informed by what we understand to be convention, preceded [by] what is in the law and what is the Constitution, so I think the president can rest easy. South Africa can rest easy. We will be confining ourselves to what is doable in the rules. – Modise prior to SONA, in response to concerns that the EFF would disrupt the President’s address
We will assist you to go. – Mbete to Malema
This strategy is the one that is going to win us votes in 2019 to remove the ANC. A kleptocracy must be removed from government and you don’t do it by giving it red roses. You remove it through the programme of action that will win society over and expose the shenanigans of this kleptocracy. – Malema after the SONA
Jackson Mthembu and his entire gang in Parliament are trying to force a person who broke the Constitution down our throats. People carrying tear gas in Parliament are the police, not guests. – Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, EFF
Good, Mbete, best
It is the most important date on the political calendar… The nation is always eager to know that government is at the top of the game. – Mbete on SONA, prior to the event
Some of the issues are at operational level and therefore they are not issues that the presiding officers in detail would be able to say this is what happens in this minute. – Mbete in response to a question on process for the public order policing unit. Wait, say that again slowly?
But will he pay back Maimane?
The 2016 election results represented a deep political shift in South Africa, where the message of change through the ballot box was received and endorsed by people across the country. – Mmusi Maimane, while outlining the DA’s plans leading up to 2019
We are seeking to go to court to obtain an order that the deployment of soldiers for non-ceremonial purposes was unlawful and unconstitutional. – James Selfe (DA), ahead of the SONA. The party is sticking to its guns thus far.
Two more of these SONAs. It’s going to be a nightmare. – Maimane
Something is rotten in the kingdom…
I’ve not heard anything that suggests that the military has been sent to Parliament. I’ve not heard that. I’ve spoken to the presidency‚ there is not such indication that there is military being sent to Parliament. Obviously we will be opposed to any military being sent to Parliament. The role of military in Parliament is ceremonial, as all of us know. – Jackson Mthembu prior to SONA
[I]t’s completely not business as usual. We’ve been given an assurance by the Speaker and the chairperson that these military people will not be allowed on the parliamentary precinct at all. They said they didn’t request the military to come; it’s something the president has done‚ [and] they don’t know why the president has deployed so many people. – Steenhuisen, ahead of SONA
I want to assure South Africans‚ here there is no abuse of state power. [Soldiers will not be at Parliament but stationed nearby] ….on standby in the event a calamity would occur. – Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, ahead of SONA
There was no calamity. – Mapisa-Nqakula speaking to journalists after the SONA
Honourable member, that was not a point of order. – Mbete attempts (unsuccessfully) to interrupt Lekota’s ‘imenemene’ moment
It was pepper spray. – NCOP Chairperson Thandi Modise on the substance that was released inside the National Assembly, in response to the DA’s allegation of tear gas. Modise later promised an investigation into the incident.
The ANC has not disrupted Parliament. Not once now it can be the responsibility of the ANC to deal with what is happening in Parliament. – Gwede Mantashe, ANC
[T]he presiding officers allowed it to go on too long. They should have cut it within 10 to 15 minutes and that’s it. – Mantashe
[Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana] has since established an interdivisional committee to investigate various allegations around the incidents that took place during the night during SONA. They’re expected to table a report early next week to presiding officers… They are saying the allegations [of brutality by protection officers] are unfair and baseless. We have been provided with footage as evidence which was broadcast on television stations. – Parliamentary spokesperson Manelisi Wolela
Eight officials of the Parliamentary Protection Services (PPS) injured while escorting some Members of Parliament out of the chamber are receiving medical and counselling services. The officials were beaten with plastic hats, bricks, and punched. – Media statement from Parliament
A whole new level
Hon. Ndlozi has just told me that I should consider moving from this chair as it might get rough here. Now I don’t know where to go. – Mangosuthu Buthelezi, IFP
We are prepared to leave this Parliament in a coffin. We won’t be intimidated by soldiers and police who are protecting that constitutional delinquent. – Malema
Please leave, Baba. – Ndlozi at the start of President Jacob Zuma’s address
Tsotsi! Tsotsi! Tsotsi! – Chants from within Parliament (EFF side) during one of Zuma’s attempts to begin his address.
F**k you, man! – Unknown contributor at Steenhuisen during Parliamentary punch-up
You are a racist and a sellout! – Unknown contributor during abovementioned Parliamentary punch-up
No dogs here. – Unknown contributor during abovementioned Parliamentary punch-up
Nee, man, f*kof! – Unknown contributor during abovementioned Parliamentary punch-up
Baleka Mbete is confused ngempela. I think Bafana Banafa must give her a call – they need a defender like her. – On Ndlozi’s Facebook page (comment by Lawrence Stemela)
Actions speak louder than words
You can kill me. It’s fine, kill me. There’s no problem. Kill me. – Malema, seconds after miming a slit throat – running a finger across his neck – to an unknown adversary across the room
… And we don’t have words for this one, so if you haven’t seen it, treat yourself to the sign language interpreter’s moment of panic at having to translate ‘fuck you’.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
It is interesting to note that the R3,500/month minimum wage translates into annual income of R42,000. That figure is the current maximum income ceiling for parents to qualify for child support grants. This seemingly suggests that, if the minimum wage was implemented today, many employed workers subject to the R3,500/month minimum wage would no longer qualify to receive child support grants. There is currently no clarity from the government’s side on this issue. – From the KPMG analysis of SONA 2017
Nkwankwa‚ a real leader. A leader amongst leaders. – Khaya Dlanga on Nqabayomzi Nkwankwa’s ability to stay cool during the chaos
Joe Public says
I’m no fan of [Jacob] Zuma but I must say I felt for the Speaker. It was not unlike being in a room full of toddlers. – Anonymous mother, who did indeed have a toddler
Why are they screening last year’s SONA again? – Elderly gentleman passing by TV screen during live broadcast
Meanwhile on Twitter
What is more shocking than Malema’s misogyny is the silence, inside and outside the EFF, by women who call themselves feminists… right to dignity cannot be reserved for those we like, especially in South Africa, with so much gender abuse. – Advocate Christine Qunta on Twitter
We would like to deeply apologise for the previous retweet. It was a mistake. We reiterate that any form of violence is unacceptable. – @GovernmentZA after retweeting a picture of a clearly pained Julius Malema, where Malema describes having his genitals squeezed by the pictured security officer. The retweet’s caption: “Hahahahaha.”
Christ, what a wretched, hollowed-out shell of a man he is. Laughing emptily as his grubby little kingdom turns to shit around him. – Tweet by writer Tom Eaton
They’re wearing your taxes, darlings. – Eaton, in response to repeated media queries on what politicians are wearing
Peace with who? – Zuma in response to suggestions that he step down for the sake of peace.
Heh heh. – President Jacob Zuma during the Parliamentary punch-up. DM
Photo: Security officials remove members of the Economic Freedom Fighters during the State Of The Nation Address (SONA) by President Zuma in Parliament, Cape Town, South Africa 09 February 2017. EPA/SUMAYA HISHAM / POOL
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." ~ Thomas Paine