13 Feb 2015

South African parliament descends into chaos

8:34 am on 13 February 2015

The opening of South Africa's parliament descended into chaos as security officers fought with politicians from the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters who disrupted President Jacob Zuma's speech.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, wearing red uniforms, clash with security forces during South African President's State of the Nation address.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, wearing red uniforms, clash with security forces during South African President's State of the Nation address. Photo: AFP

Security forces removed firebrand opposition leader Julius Malema during Mr Zuma's speech.

Mr Malema and allies from his Economic Freedom Fighters party raised numerous points of order after Mr Zuma began his annual state of the nation speech.

The speaker of parliament then ordered that they be removed.

The largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, walked out in protest at the removal of the MPs.

"You can't send police into parliament," said Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane.

Speaker Baleka Mbete did not clarify whether police or parliamentary security officers had ejected the EFF MPs.

The opposition said this was an important distinction, with one MP saying the use of police would be a way of intimidating the opposition.

Last year, the EFF disrupted another presidential speech, chanting: "Pay back the money".

Julius Malema (C) leaves the parliament after being evicted.

Julius Malema (C) leaves the parliament after being evicted. Photo: AFP

They accuse Mr Zuma of benefiting unduly from taxpayer-funded upgrades to his private residence in the village of Nkandla and they wanted Mr Zuma to answer questions about this before making his state of the nation speech.

The president has denied any wrongdoing.

Despite criticism of the Nkandla upgrade and the country's moribund economy, Mr Zuma's African National Congress was overwhelmingly re-elected last year.

-BBC

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