South Africa far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) lawmakers protested rowdily in parliament on Thursday, forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to abandon his annual state of the nation address.
After nearly an hour of disruption, the National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise temporarily suspended proceedings.
The EFF demanded F.W. De Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for their efforts to end white rule, be ejected from parliament accusing him of being “unrepentant”.
EFF leader Julius Malema, the minute Ramaphosa was supposed to deliver his speech said, “We have a murderer in the house, we have a man who has got the blood of innocent people (on his hands) in this house”.
Malema further added to his comment that parliament was wrong to invite to De Klerk. It is a tradition for former presidents to attend the annual address given by a sitting president.
“De Klerk is an unrepentant apologist of apartheid, who is not willing to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity. It is an insult to those who died and (who were) tortured … under the instructions of De Klerk to have De Klerk sitting in a democratic parliament”.
“I, therefore, suggest we please request de Klerk to leave this house,” said Malema, whose party has 44 lawmakers in the 400-seat National Assembly.
Zuma was forced to set up the commission in January 2018, shortly before he left office, after failing in a legal battle to overturn the instructions of the country’s ethics ombudsman.
Last year, in May, Ramaphosa was “duly elected president of the Republic of South Africa,” chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng told parliament after he was the only name nominated by lawmakers in Cape Town.
Ramaphosa, 66, is a trade unionist who played a prominent part in the struggle against white minority rule before becoming a successful businessman after the end of apartheid.
Ramaphosa’s first test as he starts his new term will be his choice of a cabinet — a task beset by rival factions within the ANC.
(With inputs from agency)