The opening of South Africa’s parliament descended into chaos on Thursday as security officers fought with far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) lawmakers after they disrupted President Jacob Zuma’s speech.
Zuma’s first State Of The Nation address since winning an election last May had been billed as an opportunity for him to highlight the achievements of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its plans for the year ahead.
However, EFF lawmakers, led by firebrand former-ANC youth leader Julius Malema, used the event as an opportunity to pepper Zuma with questions about an investigation into a $US23 million state-funded security upgrade to his home.
Speaker Baleka Mbete warned several EFF members not to ask any more questions before ordering they be removed by security officers, prompting a brief brawl in which several people were injured, witnesses said.
Lawmakers from the main opposition Democratic Alliance then walked out of the chamber after calling the removal of EFF members unconstitutional.
“We have seen that we are part of a police state,” Malema told reporters after being ejected.
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