S/Africa: Opposition MPs Throw Punches At State Of Nation Address

For daring to order 440 troops to maintain order during his state of address in parliament yesterday, the opposition MPs made good their promise to disrupt President Jacob Zuma’s speech.

Punches have been thrown in parliament as radical MPs tried to disrupt the State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ party (EFF), all dressed in red, scuffled with security guards who ejected them from the chamber.

Mr Zuma had twice got to his feet but was shouted down by EFF MPs.

Previous addresses by Mr Zuma have been marred by protests and brawls, as MPs demanded his resignation.

The president has been dogged by corruption allegations for more than a decade.

On Thursday, there were raised voices and chaotic scenes as Speaker Baleka Mbete tried to deal with repeated interruptions and procedural questions from MPs at the parliament in Cape Town.

Members of another opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, then walked out.

Despite further interruptions, President Zuma eventually resumed his address.

Mr Zuma had angered some MPs ahead of his speech by ordering the deployment of about 440 troops to maintain law and order in parliament on the day.

Opposition parties condemned the decision as a “declaration of war”.

It was the first time that troops had a security rather than a ceremonial role.

Previous State of the Nation speeches has been marred by chaos in parliament.

Since winning seats in 2014, members of the EFF have caused disruption by chanting and jeering at the president over allegations of corruption.

In 2015, EFF members were removed from the chamber by security guards disguised as waiters.