Disruptions by EFF as they demand former president FW de Klerk to leave Parliament .Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The start of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fourth State of the Nation Address was delayed by just over 94 minutes on Thursday night, when EFF MPs led by Julius Malema demanded that FW de Klerk be asked to leave Parliament. 

De Klerk was the last apartheid president and he served as deputy president during former president Nelson Mandela’s term between 1994 and 1999. He was invited by Parliament. 

He drew some criticism last week, when he said apartheid was not a crime against humanity. 

In an interview with the SABC, he said: “I don’t fully agree with that (it was evil and a crime against humanity), and I am not justifying apartheid in anyway. 

“It did, and profusely apologised for that, but there’s a difference in calling something a crime, like genocide, is a crime, apartheid cannot be, and that is why I am saying this. “It can never be compared with genocide, there was never genocide,” he said in the interview. 

WATCH: De Klerk Must Go

On the back of de Klerk’s comments, the EFF, which was expected to disrupt SONA on a ticket that demanded Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan be removed, used the former apartheid president’s remarks as the basis for their continued interjections and points of order.  

They asked National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to remove de Klerk, but she declined, telling them he was an invited guest. But the EFF refused to let up, forcing Modise to suspend the House after almost an hour of back-and-forth interjections. The Red Berets staged walk out when the House reconvened. 

Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa, who was speaking on behalf of Cabinet, reiterated that de Klerk would not be removed from the House and that he was welcome, as was Gordhan - who was also targeted by the EFF.  


ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, speaking after the president’s address, said it was the correct decision for de Klerk not to be removed, as there had been reconciliation and he formed a part of the 1994 Government of Unity.  

In 1993, De Klerk and former president Nelson Mandela were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes for ending apartheid peacefully. The following year, Mandela appointed the De Klerk as one of his two deputy presidents. 

Taking to social media on Friday, Zindzi Mandela, who is South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark and Mandela's daughter, scoffed at the ANC’s defence of de Klerk.  

“As a loyal and dedicated member of @MYANC I am heartbroken this happened to my mother and many others under De Klerk's watch. According to his interview, he justified this, therefore saying that that my mother and others deserved this aggression. What do we stand for?” she tweeted. Irvin Jim, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa), also hit out at the ANC. Carl Niehaus, spokesperson for the Umkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans Association, was also scathing, saying: SOCIAL MEDIA ON DE KLERK