South Africa

SONA 2023

The first 45 minutes — High drama as EFF members booted out after trying to storm the City Hall stage

The first 45 minutes — High drama as EFF members booted out after trying to storm the City Hall stage
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema disrupts President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

The EFF followed through with its plan to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening. This ended in clashes between the Red Berets and security personnel and their eventual removal from the City Hall chambers.

This year’s State of the Nation Address started off on a disorderly note with EFF leader Julius Malema standing on a point of order and questioning how President Cyril Ramaphosa was able to “convene the people he has taken to court”. However, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula quashed his attempt to interrupt proceedings and asked the President to resume his speech. 

African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula backed Malema but was then booted out by the Speaker, who said he had “defied” her instructions. 

From then, every attempt by Ramaphosa to continue his speech was met with heckling from EFF members and points of orders coming from Malema’s deputy, Floyd Shivambu, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi and the party’s secretary-general, Marshall Dlamini.  

After some back and forth between the EFF members and the Speaker and continued heckling of the President, Mapisa-Nqakula asked the EFF to leave the chamber. 

EFF MPs then tried to storm the stage but were quickly intercepted by security personnel. Heavily armed security personnel huddled around the President to protect him.  

Proceedings were then suspended for 10 minutes. 

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is forcibly removed from City Hall where his party disrupted the State of the Nation Address, 9 February 2022. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Naledi Chirwa disrupts proceedings at the State of the Nation Address held at City Hall in Cape Town, 9 February 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

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After their removal from the chamber by armed tactical response members, a roughed-up Malema addressed the media. He said Ramaphosa’s administration was a dictatorship. 

“Where have you ever seen an elite unit entering Parliament, a counter-assault team entering Parliament in uniform? That only happens in a dictatorship. 

“Where have you ever seen the media being prevented from speaking to members of Parliament? Only under a dictatorship are South Africans denied an opportunity to see what is really happening here. The whole state has collapsed in the protection of one man.  

“But, we can assure South Africa that we will never get tired. We will hold him accountable if he thought he was going to sweep under the carpet the Phala Phala matter, the load shedding matter, the high level of crime and GBV and unemployment in this country. 

“We are not going to allow that. Parliament has degenerated, [the] executive has degenerated, [and] the judicial system has degenerated in the protection of one man. Welcome to dictatorship, our country has turned against its own Constitution. 

“Police responsibility is outside of Parliament, inside Parliament are the protection services that get paid to protect members of Parliament. What we saw today, the presidential protection team, the counter-assault team on the stage right inside Parliament…” Malema said. 

In the chamber, DA leader John Steenhuisen raised a point of concern about how the Presidential Protection Unit and the police had dealt with the scuffle. He also questioned why armed officers were on standby before the Speaker called them in, which he said was not in accordance with the rules of Parliament.

Shortly after the incident, Parliament issued a statement condemning the actions of the EFF MPs. 

The statement also gave clarity on the role of security services during Parliamentary proceedings. 

“The House had to be briefly suspended to remove the disruptive MPs, who refused to leave the House after being repeatedly ordered to do so following persistent abuse of the points of order. The MPs also jumped onto the stage where the President was seated, posing an immediate threat to his safety. 

“In terms of the Joint Rules of Parliament, the security services may intervene directly anywhere in the precincts in terms of section 4(2) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act (Act No 4 of 2004, when there is immediate danger to the life or safety of any person or damage to any property. 

“In this regard, the security services do not have to await the invitation of the Presiding Officers to enter the Chamber when the life or safety of a Member is at stake,” the statement reads. 

Ramaphosa finally got to have his say 45 minutes after the scheduled start. DM


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