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Parly chaos aftermath yields insults, threats & court action

The African National Congress (ANC) says it’s satisfied that Zuma was able to deliver his speech.

Members of the Parliament look on as members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, wearing red uniforms, clash with security forces during South African President's State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 12 February, 2015.

JOHANNESBURG - There have been threats of court action, demands for accountability and a slew of insults in the aftermath of Thursday night's chaos in Parliament.

President Jacob Zuma delivered his State of the Nation Address (Sona) despite the violent expulsion of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs, a walkout by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and a row about cell phone signal being cut.

The African National Congress (ANC) said it was satisfied Zuma was able to deliver his speech despite the disruptions.

But the EFF said it would approach the Constitutional Court and ask it to rule on whether it was lawful for police to march into the National Assembly chamber.

Party leader Julius Malema said it also wanted one of its MPs who was hospitalised with a fractured jaw, to take legal steps against Parliament.

"Our people who were beaten will go to court. We want Reneilwe [Mashabela] to sue Parliament because it owed it to her to protect her. We are going to the Constitutional Court next week. Lawyers are now busy drafting the papers."

Minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe confirmed earlier that police officers were involved in the eviction of EFF MPs.

Malema said the intention was not to disrupt proceedings and said his MPs were merely doing what they were elected to do.

He said Zuma could expect the same series of events when he returns to Parliament on 11 March.

"If we get an opportunity to do what we did yesterday we will repeat it. We do not care. Actually, it looks like they will have to bring police permanently into the house because we are not scared of those people."

The DA claimed Baleka Mbete violated the constitutional separation of powers by calling in armed police on Thursday night.

It's demanding she be held accountable for what happened.

The party's Mmusi Maimane said, "There's a Parliamentary oversight authority, that hasn't been able to meet. That body has a key function of making sure that it provides oversight to make sure the rules are applied fairly. Speaker Mbete has allowed that and so she has allowed a deteriorating situation to continue."

REACTION

There's been widespread reaction to last night's events with the EFF coming under fire from the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) for the disruptions.

Casac's Lawson Naidoo said the MPs jeopardised the rights of South Africans to hold Zuma accountable by not letting him speak.

"It's insulting the rules of Parliament, it sought to deny the President an opportunity to make an address to Parliament that is part of our constitutional make up that the President is accountable to Parliament."

The National Religious Leaders Council, meanwhile, said it was deeply disappointed about what happened as it shows elected leaders have failed.

Rhema Bible Church head Ray McCauley said religious leaders were extremely concerned about what happened and they continued to pray for sanity to prevail.

"It was very sad for the country as a whole; I think everybody is in shock. I don't want to be a prophet of doom but we really expected what happened to happen."

McCauley said Malema since December tried to resolve issues between his party and president Zuma, however he failed to stop Malema from disrupting Zuma's address last night to ask him when he will pay back the money with regards to Nkandla.

McCauley said the ANC was also consulted separately in the run up to the address to get a commitment that Zuma will respond to the EFF's question next week.

LISTEN: Malema addresses media outside Parliament on Thursday night.

Former speaker Frene Ginwala has questioned whether South Africa needed to embrace a new form of Parliament in the wake of Thursday's chaos in the National Assembly.

Ginwala suggested that collectively South Africans needed to do some rethinking about the way in which the country is governed.

She said as the country's democracy progresses, Parliament is in need of transformation.

Ginwala added that while implementing changes may be difficult, traditional ways of agreement could offer a solution.

"The objective was, should be, to reach agreement. To persuade each other, to talk things through, not to fight things through. That is what we need to do. It's going to be a challenge but we still need to do that."

Meanwhile, the ANC said it believed last night's disruptions were part of a well-structured plan to discredit the President and the proceedings.

The ruling party said it was not surprised by what it has called "a meticulous plan" to collapse Sona.

Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said ultimately the evening was a success.

"At the end of the day, SONA was presented against the plan and I think it [the EFF] failed dismally to stop the presentation of SONA by the President. He [Zuma] did well, he was able to outline the challenges and the possibility of hope."

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