An ugly brawl erupted in the South African parliament Tuesday as members of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party were forcibly ejected from the House by plain-clothed security guards for disrupting President Jacob Zuma’s address.
The fracas, which highlighted the increasing political tensions in South Africa ahead of local government elections in August, came less than a month after the same opposition members of parliament (MPs) heckled President Zuma in South Africa’s Parliament last month, when he was summoned to answer corruption allegations.
Zuma watched impassively as 20 EFF MPs — including their main leader Julius Malema, wrestled with security guards to fight their way back in to the assembly chamber until they were thrown out one by one through a side door.
The rowdy MPs shouted down the speaker of the national assembly, Baleka Mbete, asking her to eject President Zuma from the house for breaking his oath of office.
Addressing journalists and a crowd of cheering supporters who had gathered outside parliament, Malema insisted that chaos will continue until the President resigns.
Zuma will never find peace in this parliament. Every time he comes here, the same thing will happen,” Malema said.
In reaction to the disgraceful brawl, President Zuma criticized the opposition leaders for disrespecting parliament and asked them to behave according to decorum.
This House needs to do something about itself. I believe that there is a lot that we have to do in this country to fight poverty,” Zuma complained, calling for a dialogue among political leaders.
Despite the hundreds of corruption allegations against him and the mounting pressure for him to resign, President Zuma has insisted on staying put, insisting that he has never intended to pursue corruption or use state funds to benefit himself or his family.
In April, South Africa’s Supreme Court found Zuma guilty of unduly spending public money to renovate his private residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
Zuma later pleaded guilty to the offense and promised the South African parliament to pay back the money as ordered by the court. He also survived an impeachment motion in parliament after it lacked quorum.
Split in ANC
As public and opposition pressure on President Zuma continues to mount, ANC appears to be disintegrating, with some of its veteran members publicly criticizing Zuma, urging him to step down.
Many political analysts foresee a major split in the South Africa’s ruling party in the event that it loses support in the upcoming local government elections in August.
Some have even predicted that President Zuma may be forced to resign depending on the outcome of the August poll.