Politics

EFF walks out of Sona

EFF walks out of Sona

The EFF walked out of parliament on Thursday night after delaying President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address for more than an hour.

EFF leader Julius Malema told Ramaphosa that their problem was his refusal to fire public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, as well as the presence of former apartheid president FW de Klerk.

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“Our biggest problem here is that the president is not listening to the call of South Africans to fire Pravin. If the president does not want to fire Pravin, this is what’s going to be our relationship with the president for the next five years.

“We will leave you with your Pravin and De Klerk,” Malema said, before leading his MPs out of the house.

This came after the EFF forced National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise to suspend proceedings on Thursday after party MPs disrupted Ramaphosa's speech.

EFF MPs took turns calling on Ramaphosa to first fire public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan before delivering his state of the nation address.

An hour later, Ramaphosa had not delivered his speech.

“We are going to suspend the proceedings of this house. The bells will be rung,” said Modise.

This came after 55 minutes of disruptions by EFF MPs who first objected to the presence of the last apartheid president FW de Klerk and later demanded that Gordhan be fired from Ramaphosa's cabinet.

Once Modise announced the suspension of proceedings, EFF MPs applauded in unison, rose and chanted: “Pravin must go!”

The chaos was started by EFF leader Julius Malema, who said it was a mistake for parliament to invite De Klerk.

“Speaker, we have a murderer in the house,” he said.

“We have a man who has got blood of innocent people in this house, which is supposed to represent the wills of our people — and therefore it’s incorrect for you to have extended  an invitation to De Klerk because De Klerk is a murderer.

“The people of Boipatong are still crying and De Klerk said apartheid was not a crime against humanity. He is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid; he is not willing to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity,” said Malema.

Malema demanded that De Klerk leave the house before Ramaphosa delivered his speech.

“It is an insult for those who died and [were] tortured in Boipatong ... We please request De Klerk to please leave this house.”

Malema was followed by his deputy Floyd Shivambu, secretary-general Marshall Dlamini and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

Modise dismissed Malema's motion.

“This sitting has been called for one item and one item only, to give the president ... space to deliver the state of the nation address. It is convention that all the presidents and former presidents who are still alive are invited to the sitting. Former president De Klerk has been invited because of that. I, therefore, cannot sustain the submission,” she said.

Then, when Ramaphosa took to the podium to deliver his speech, EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo raised a point of order, saying Ramaphosa should only deliver his speech after firing Gordhan.

“We can't fly to Durban because of this man,” said Pambo, referring to the crisis at SAA.

Earlier, Pambo said South Africans were without lights, in reference to the crisis at power utility Eskom.

EFF MPs called for the adjournment of the sitting.

“Please adjourn the house in order for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Pravin.”

Modise objected to this and ordered EFF MPs to stop disrupting proceedings.

The disruptions lasted for close to an hour before the sitting was suspended.

Speaking outside, deputy state security minister Zizi Kodwa insisted that the address would be delivered by Ramaphosa, saying what the EFF had done was an infringement of citizens' right to listen to their president.

Kodwa said Gordhan was going nowhere, and that De Klerk had every right to be in parliament as a legitimate former deputy president of a democratic SA.

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