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WATCH: Ramaphosa’s SONA suspended after EFF disruptions

SOUTH African National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise suspended the opening sitting of Parliament on Thursday evening as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) carried out their threat to disrupt the event and prevent President Cyril Ramaphosa from delivering his state of the nation address (SONA).

A visibly angry Modise made the call after 50 minutes of repeated points of order and heckling from the EFF.

The party’s members of Parliament (MPs) rose first to demand former president FW de Klerk leave the public gallery, branding him “a murderer”, and then rising to demand that Ramaphosa fire Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Modise threatened to have the EFF’s MPs removed from the chamber, before changing her mind and interrupting the sitting without word as to what happens next.

Earlier Modise shot down demands by the EFF during the opening of Parliament that former president FW De Klerk be ejected from the house.

One minute into proceedings, EFF leader Julius Malema stood on a point of order, saying De Klerk had “blood on his hands”.

“We please request de Klerk to leave this house,” said Malema.

But Modise said Thursday’s sitting was called for one item, to give Ramaphosa the space to address the nation. 

“It is convention that all former living presidents are invited to the sitting,” she said.

“Former president de Klerk has been invited because of that. I therefore cannot sustain the submission you have made and rule it out of order.”

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EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu then also stood and asked why a “white’s only president” elected by the apartheid government should be invited.

Various EFF members stood up and continued to try to address the issue, with Malema again trying to get De Klerk thrown out.

Eventually, former Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the matter should be put to a vote. This was agreed upon by Malema and the EFF. 

But Modise threw the rule book at the MPs, saying no vote would be allowed in a joint seating.

“The matter is closed,” she said, and called on Ramaphosa to make his state of the nation address (SONA). 

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