Members of opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters were ejected from South Africa’s parliament during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address for asking Zuma to pay back the millions of rands used in the renovations of his homestead at Nkandla.
The changes to Mr Zuma’s private home, including a pool and cattle enclosure, cost taxpayers about $23m (£13.8m).
Shortly after their removal, the country’s official opposition party the Democratic Alliance walked out of parliament ini protest against what they claimed were armed police officers being used in the action.
Outside the National Assembly Julius Malema claimed at least seven MPs were injured during the running scuffles.
“Reneilwe Mashabela was held by not less than seven men. One of them was beating her on the face with a shoe,” Malema claimed.
“Whether they beat us or not, we’ll continue to ask relevant questions,” a defiant Malema said.
“We have seen that we are part of a police state where when people are unable to give political answers, political solutions to political problems, they resort to security apparatus and we’ve always said the ANC has sent South African into a security state, so today it was confirmed.”
Malema himself showed signs of being dragged out of the chamber forcefully.
In an article on AllAfrica.com, Khadija Patel wrote:
Jacob Zuma continued with his speech as if nothing had happened. As if cellphone signals had not been not disrupted, purportedly by State Security. As if Parliament had not just been rendered a farce. As if democracy in South Africa had not been rendered a sham.
It’s about time Zuma acknowledges, at least, that this is not business as usual. It is utterly bizarre to be speaking about national achievements in (non-Nkandla) swimming pools and beauty pageants some place else, when the very fabric of our democracy right here had home has had holes stamped into it.
According to the Guardian, Former president Thabo Mbeki said that Zuma should have directly answered when asked by opposition MPs when he will repay millions in public funds spent on security upgrades at his private homestead. Mbeki did not directly refer to the controversy around Nkandla, the homestead on which, anti-corruption watchdog found, 246m rand (£13.73m) of taxpayers’ money was spent in a display of “opulence on a grand scale” amid a sea of poverty. But he said he felt the problem was “bigger than parliament”.
Is South Africa’s democracy under threat?