Fight Breaks Out in South African Parliament
A fistfight broke out in South Africa’s parliament on February 9 as opposition lawmakers protested government policy ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation speech. Members of the anti-capitalist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) began disrupting parliamentary proceedings before President Zuma even arrived to deliver his speech, according to local news reports.
Footage of the event shows EFF parliamentarians standing and shouting as the Speaker of the National Assembly, the ANC’s Baleka Mbete, attempted to restore order by asking Malema and others to leave. Upon their refusal to exit the chamber, a security team forcefully removed the EFF politicians amid flying fists.
According to News24, a news outlet in Cape Town, security used pepper spray to subdue several EFF members. Shouting continued outside, with members of the public joining the removed parliamentarians in protesting outside the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town.
Founded by Julius Malema, an expelled official in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the EFF is the third-largest party in South Africa’s parliament and calls for economic redistribution along Marxist-Leninist lines. It has long opposed the policies of President Zuma, whom its members have denounced as “rotten to the core,” according to Al Jazeera. The EFF specifically opposes the ANC because of the latter’s supposed inaction on the imbalance in the percentage of land and businesses ownership between the white minority and the black South African majority (who comprise 80% of the population).
According to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, President Zuma’s State of the Nation address was delayed by several hours due to the brawl.