Former president FW de Klerk looks on as President Cyril Ramaphosa attempts to deliver his State of the Nation Address. Picture: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

Parliament - "MPs are gatvol." This was the sentiment of several political parties regarding the behaviour of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the National Assembly ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's fourth State of the Nation Address.

Ramaphosa could only begin his fourth State of the Nation Address more than an hour after he was set to begin on Thursday evening.

This after the EFF raised several points of order during proceedings resulting in Speaker Thandi Modise suspending the event for several minutes.

The EFF gave Ramaphosa the cold shoulder when he entered the National Assembly and refused to acknowledge him. Party leader Julius Malema raised his first point of order regarding the invitation of former president FW De Klerk. 

"It is an insult to those who died and were tortured on Vlakplaas to have De Klerk in a democratic Parliament and therefore I request that you ask De Klerk to leave," he said.

Malema called De Klerk a “murderer” and “a man with blood on his hands”. 

Modise said: “The invitation of De Klerk was done out of goodwill. I am not going to go on and on with this matter.”

Modise accused the EFF of infringing on the rights of members who want to listen to the president to deliver the state of the nation address. The back-and forth-lasted 30-minutes long.

The EFF raised another point of order calling for the president to sack public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.  

“Can we please proceed with the business of this House. I am sure South Africa is not happy with us right now,” Modise said as she called for calm. 

In an unprecedented move the Speaker suspended the house. During the house suspension the EFF chanted “De Klerk must go”.

Other parties condemned the behaviour of the EFF, calling it “disgusting”.

“This House has been impeded for the last hour and a half and it’s unacceptable. A member is guilty of contempt. The behaviour constitutes contempt. They need to be referred to the power and privileges committee, ” DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said. 

ACDP member Steve Swart said: “It’s utterly disgusting and we owe the nation an apology and we need to take action urgently and there must be consequences for this.” 

"MPs are gatvol," UDM member Nqabayomzi Lawrence Saziso Kwankwa said.

“For an hour we must do this and people are not going to take us seriously as leaders. For an hour we must listen to this squabble. We don’t want to be impeded by the EFF.”

Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille expressed her disappointment with the disruption and said: “We are setting a bad precedent for people to ignore the ruling of the speaker. The Speaker made several rulings and they have ignored it. That is very bad."

 

Video: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

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