Sona disrupted as EFF MPs removed, DA MPs walk out

EFF members were forcefully removed and DA members walked out in protest.

Democratic Alliance MPs walk out of Parliament during the 2015 State of the Nation Address on 12 February.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has delivered his State of the Nation Address (Sona) despite a walkout by the DA, the expulsion off EFF MPs, and threats of court action after cell phone connectivity was cut ahead of his address.

Before official proceedings got under way journalists and opposition parties delayed the speech, shouting "bring back the signal".

The DA's Musi Maimane said the deliberate tampering of connectivity undermines Parliament's role.

"We simply cannot proceed unless we disconnect that blocking device. If you rule madam Speaker that we must proceed with that blocking device on we will challenge that ruling in Parliament and if needs be we will challenge that ruling in court because this is unacceptable."

Both EFF leader Julius Malema and the DA's Helen Zille held up their phones and chanted the refrain.

Speaker Baleka Mbete finally gave in and informed MPs the signal was unscrambled, effectively admitting that the signal had been purposefully scrambled.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said this was a very serious matter, to which Mbete responded that the scrambled signal would be investigated by the secretary.

Once the president took the podium, EFF MP Godrick Gardee got the ball rolling, calling for a point a order, asking the president when he would be paying back the money spent on his Nkandla home.

"Since he has not been answering questions, we hope today that he shall answer that question."

What followed was a heated exchange between Malema and Mbete who then asked the EFF leader to leave the chamber along with fellow fighter Floyd Shivambu.

"I would like to remind you honorable member that a point of order must relate to a point of procedure concerning the current proceedings. As you know, today's sitting is convened for a specific purpose,"said the Speaker.

A group of men in white shirts and black pants entered the room, and removed them with force, resulting in scuffles.

The EFF then retreated into their Parliamentary offices to give statements to police.

#SONA2015 Julius Malema and EFF walk away from Parliament. @ThomHolder

  • EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) February 12, 2015 DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane demanded to know whether the people who removed the EFF members were police officers.

"This is a grave violation. We can't violate the Constitution," he said.

Steenhuisen then asked to address the Speaker.

"There were members with firearms who entered while in session. You don't meet bad behaviour with bad behaviour."

Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise responded, "We had repeatedly asked people to leave. We are allowed to ask for security, whichever security, to act, in support. We should allow house to do its business."

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthulezi said, "I think what we have seen today is disgusting, I think our country is being drawn to pieces. The struggle was not for this, we can't have a few people tearing our country apart."

At that point, DA members packed up and left.

Zuma then resumed his address

Once outside the building, Malema said during their removal seven EFF MPs were injured and they would be consulting lawyers.

Malema said while being removed the EFF MPs were warned not to fight back as the men were police officers.

"That's what happens in South Africa. When people raise legitimate questions, they are assaulted, police are called upon to assault them, to arrest them. We are really happy with the courage of the DA that they took a stand against turning Parliament into a police state."

LISTEN: Julius Malema addresses the media after being removed from Parliament.

Maimane also slammed the police action.

"What happened today was a crime and it's a violation against what political [parties can do and I want to be crystal clear that if we keep bringing police into the chamber, what's next? The defence force?"