DA: The battle lines are drawn

The Democratic Alliance says the battle lines are being drawn in a new struggle for freedom.

DA MPs applaud the party's Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane following his speech during the joint sitting on 17 February 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Amid fierce criticism of President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly, the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday said the battle lines were being drawn in a new struggle for freedom.

Proceedings unfolded relatively calmly compared to last week's mayhem when cellphone signals were jammed and police, dressed in plain clothing, dragged Economic Freedom Fighter's (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) out of the State of the Nation Address (Sona).

But those events cast a long shadow over Tuesday's debate.

Zuma came under fierce attack with the opposition saying he should be held accountable for the current state of the nation.

With the president looking on, DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane didn't hold back.

"For you honourable president are not an honourable man, you're a broken man presiding over a broken society."

He criticised the president's actions following the EFFs expulsion.

"You laughed while the people of South Africa cried for their beloved country. You laughed while trampling Madiba's legacy in the week we celebrated 25 years of his release."

EFF leader Julius Malema also addressed the house saying Zuma was responsible for the actions of the security forces in Parliament.

"You shall be known as the president who brought violence and not peace to the workers in Marikana. You will be known as the president who violated the fundamental rights of MPs to hold executive accountable. You will be known as a hooligan who used hooligan tactics to silence the opposition duly elected to represent poor South Africans."

Video: Malema: Zuma the 'hooligan' president.

ANC MPS COME TO ZUMA'S DEFENCE

Free State Premier Ace Magashule came to the defence of the president, slamming the opposition for the attack on him on Tuesday afternoon.

Magashule said the opposition was out of order.

Tempers flared when he referred to the EFF leader as someone just jostling for power.

Cooperative Governance and Administration Minister, Pravin Gordhan, also hit back at the opposition's criticism of Zuma and his government.

During his speech, Gordhan admitted that the gulf between rich and poor was too wide, but said the African National Congress (ANC) was the only organisation capable of bringing about change for all of South Africa's people.

"We are not a broken organisation and we aren't a broken country."

He said the battle for votes had reached a point where vision and principle had fallen by the wayside.

"In a vain effort to project ourselves as sole guardians of democracy, some amongst us are engaging in rank opportunism and brinkmanship."

The minister said the public should be told the truth.