Cape Town - Economic Freedom Front MPs were ordered out of Parliament on Thursday for insisting on asking President Jacob Zuma when he will pay back money they believe he owes taxpayers for security upgrades to his Nkandla home.
Speaker Baleka Mbete ordered the Sergeant At Arms to remove the MPs, including EFF leader Julius Malema.
Parliament turned into a shouting match, with various people attempting to raise points of order.
The interruption was expected. Malema has been warning for months that he would demand answers from Zuma.
“Is it in his speech when the money is going be paid back,” one EFF MP wanted to know.
Zuma has been accused of avoiding Parliament so that he does not have to answer questions around Nkandla.
Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete was adamant that the president would answer questions, but Sona was not the correct platform.
“If you insist on raising questions… this house has to proceed with the business of the state of the nation address being delivered today without any hinderance ,” she said.
Before Malema was thrown out he said: “You are not doing me any favour, it is within my right to speak as a member of this house. The rules must apply when the president speaks. We want the president to answer a simple question when is he paying the money as directed by the Public Protector… do not be emotional about it.”
This is the first time that MPs have been shown the door during SONA.
Outside Parliament a police water cannon was on standby, as a number of Tactical Response Team (TRT) officersrrived at the sing-off between ANC and EFF supporters opposite the Plein Street side entrance.
Tensions escalated when more ANC members arrived and started to outnumber, and push, the EFF supporters. It got tense when the ANC supporters clearly identifiable in their yellow T-shirts, many featuring President Jacob Zuma’s face, started singing “voetsek” and “fok off”.
More ANC members are arriving up Plein Street, which has been barricaded off.
Police kept on watching, although their numbers have been boosted. At least four police bakkies, and a truck usually used to transport arrested people, are now also in the street.