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Zuma speaks out against #Sona2016 disruptions

Sona has been characterised by insults, walkouts, expulsions and economic policy.

A screengrab of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs leave the house chanting "Zupta Must Fall" during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address on 11 February, 2016.
President Jacob Zuma,Jacob Zuma,SONA,SONA2016
Local Politics

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma says disruptions to his address by opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) shows those MPs have a problem respecting the rights of others.

He says they are preventing ordinary South Africans from hearing what the president has to say.

Zuma made the comments this morning at a breakfast briefing, hosted by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and The New Age.

“If you believe in the rights of yourself, your party etc. I think it’s important to believe that other parties and individuals have rights as well.”

The State of the Nation Address (Sona) has been characterised by insults, walkouts, expulsions and economic policy with Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) ordered out of the chamber and Zuma focusing on growing the economy.

In a Parliament surrounded by barbed wire, EFF Members of Parliament (MPs) insisted on trying to ask Zuma about the sacking of Nhlanhla Nene.

Malema had promised to disrupt proceedings - and that he did. 

Before Zuma even stood up, the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu was asking for points of order. 

He wanted clarity on the rules.

But National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise, acting as joint speakers for the night, both tried to stop him and other EFF MPs. 

Then Malema himself was on his feet, pointing and shouting that they were being treated unfairly.

Eventually, they were told to leave

But not before Malema had one last comment…

“Zuma is no longer a president that deserves respect from anyone. He has stolen from us. He has collapsed the economy of South Africa. He has made this country a joke, and after that has laughed at us. We are not going to allow that!”

WATCH: EFF escorted out of #Sona2016

In the end they went out peacefully and there was no need for the men in white shirts and dark trousers, who were stationed at all the doors to the chamber.

Once they'd gone, Zuma said South Africa has to avoid a ratings-downgrade, that everyone needs to work together and the country urgently needs to address the issue of having two capitals.

Almost all of last night's speech was about the economy and about what needs to be done to get it growing again.

International investors, business leaders and opposition politicians are now going through Zuma's address, asking whether it’s going to be a turning point for South Africa's fragile economy.

It was clear that the president wanted to focus on the economy; he wanted everyone to know why it was important.

“Let us work together to turn the situation around. It can be done.”

Zuma says, “The IMF and the World Bank predict that the South African economy will grow by less than one percent this year.”

The president also had something to say about the nuclear power programme.

“Let me emphasise that we will only procure nuclear on a scale and pace that our country can afford.”

He also spoke about the impact of the drought.

“The building of water infrastructure remains critical so we can expand access to our people and industry.”

His main message seems to be, if everyone works together, things will improve.

WATCH: Ses’khona protesters in tense standoff with police near Parliament

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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