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Tensions high ahead of Zuma’s Q&A session

The president's set to answer 6 questions, the last of which from Julius Malema on paying back the money.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture:Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Tensions were high at Parliament on Wednesday ahead of President Jacob Zuma's question and answer session in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Zuma's set to answer six questions, the last of which from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema who will ask when he'll pay back the money as directed by the public protector's remedial action in her report on Nkandla.

Opposition parties were said to be outraged that they were prevented from getting clarity on whether police members had been drafted in to beef up the Parliamentary Protection Services at a meeting of the Parliamentary Oversight Authority on Wednesday.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Freedom Front Plus said the meeting was adjourned before their questions about whether police would play any role in keeping order when Zuma and Malema squared off.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said, "If a member of the police or the security services enters the house in violation of the new rule, in violation of the Constitution we will not abide by whatever they try and do in the house."

The new rule provides for defiant Members of Parliament (MPs) to be forcibly ejected but only by members of Parliament's Protection Services, which fall under the Speaker.

It's being widely speculated that EFF MPs will try and put the rule to the test on Thursday afternoon.

'I'M READY FOR ZUMA'

Malema's trial made it doubtful he'd be in the house on Thursday to ask Zuma when he would pay back some of the Nkandla money.

But Malema's fraud and corruption trial was struck from the roll earlier this week because one of his co-accused was not present in court in Polokwane.

He said he would be ready for Zuma in Parliament, seeing as he no longer faced criminal charges.

The EFF leader and two others were facing more than 50 charges for allegedly benefiting from a tender payment.

His party said the government would no doubt have preferred to have their leader tied up in court on Thursday.

On Monday, Malema urged his MPs to be in the house when Zuma was due to answer MPs' questions, including the one from Malema.

"Whether Malema is there or not, when Zuma comes, the EFF must represent us very well."

Now Malema will be able to put his question to the president himself.