Mass brawl breaks out in South African parliament ahead of Jacob Zuma speech

The raucous scenes unfolded on national television

Christopher Torchia
Thursday 09 February 2017 21:27 GMT
Security officials remove members of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the South African parliament
Security officials remove members of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the South African parliament (REUTERS)

A mass brawl broke out in the South African parliament between opposition politicians and security guards who dragged them out of the chamber.

The raucous scenes unfolded on national television after they tried to stop the country's President Jacob Zuma from making an address, denouncing as a "scoundrel" and "rotten to the core" because of corruption allegations and declaring him unfit for office.

In the surrounding streets of Cape Town, police and hundreds of military forces patrolled to guard against protesters who want Mr Zuma to quit.

Security teams eventually were called into the chamber to remove red-clad members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, some of whom threw punches and pounded guards with plastic helmets.

Members of the Democratic Alliance, the country's biggest opposition group, then walked out in protest. Some members of the ruling African National Congress party heckled them as they left.

"Out, Out," they shouted.

"Finally," said a laughing Mr Zuma, who then started an annual address on the economy and other national matters.

A politically weakened figure, the South African leader has faced calls to resign even from factions of the ruling party. Some ANC members blame the scandals for the party's poor performance in local elections in August, in which it lost control of several key metropolitan areas.

Critics also condemned an announcement by Mr Zuma's office that 441 members of the military would assist police in maintaining order during the speech and the opening of parliament. The military has previously deployed for the event, but the security operation was among the largest in recent years.

Earlier, police near parliament used stun grenades to disperse ruling party members and opposition groups who were fighting.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in