Violence erupted in the Parliament of South Africa on Thursday during the annual State of Union address of President Jacob Zuma. Members of the opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) disrupted the speech of the president to protest over the State of affairs in the country.
Repeatedly, opposition members interrupted Zuma during his speech, insisting he is unfit for the Office.
“For us, he is an incorrigible man, rotten to the bone.” Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF shouted loudly.
The action of the opposition did not go without acrimonious consequences, characterized by a heavy exchange of blows amongst members of the Parliament. The violence led to the forceful removal of the militant EEF members, dressed in their characteristic red overalls and with miners’ helmets, from the parliament.
But members of the EEF were not the only ones protesting against the scandal dented presidency of Zuma. Members of the Group of the Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, led by Mmusi Maimane equally joined the protest. The 74-year-old president had to wait more than an hour before he could finish his speech. The clashes continued outside the Parliament building, forcing the police to use tear gas to separate the confrontation between members of the EFF and President Zuma`s ruling party, African National Congress (ANC).
The popularity of President Jacob Zuma has been drastically decreased following a series of scandals, including corruption allegation and abuse of power, leading to three No Confidence Votes, which he miraculously survived.
Interestingly, it was the same Julius Malema, leader of the EEF, who once vowed he would rather die for President Zuma when he (Mr. Malema) was the leader the ANC Youths Wing. He had zealously defended President Zuma during their political romance and rejected any corruption or abuse of power allegations against Zuma. Mr. Malema`s criticism of President Zuma only started immediately he was removed from his function and expelled from the ANC. Has President Zuma suddenly changed and become corrupt in the eyes of Malema? Many wonder whether Julius Malema is indeed a political opportunist rather than an idealist or a die-hard patriot, he would want many to believe. This is an interesting question many voters in South Africa must ponder while the next general elections approach.
Even though President Zuma is synonymous with scandals and corruption allegations, the question many are asking is: Have members of the opposition, especially those from the EEF, gone too far as to disrupt the annual State of Union address of President Zuma?
Unless President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma puts his house in order, opponents like Malema and incidence such as the violence in the Parliament will continue to be part of the South African political climate.