Due to uncontrolled chaos, Parliament Speaker Thandi Modise on Thursday evening suspended a joint sitting of Parliament, where President Cyril Ramaphosa was meant to deliver his much-anticipated State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The disruption was caused by Members of Parliament (MPs) from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who barred Ramaphosa from delivering his SONA for his failure to remove Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. The EFF holds Gordhan accountable for the poor performance of major state-owned enterprises (SOEs), including the South African Airways (SAA) and electricity utility Eskom which is blamed for recent constant rolling power blackouts.
It is rare in South African history that a presidential SONA was suspended due to disruption.
EFF MPs also demanded that former President F.W. de Klerk leave Parliament. EFF leader Julius Malema accused De Klerk, the last white president in South Africa, of being “an unrepentant apologist of apartheid who is not willing to accept that apartheid was a crime against humanity.”
EFF MPs cheered after Modise announced the suspension of the proceedings. Ramaphosa was scheduled to deliver his SONA at 7 p.m. local time but EFF MPs delayed the proceedings for almost one hour before Modise suspended the joint sitting due to EFF MPs’ refusal to obey the rule of order. Ramaphosa’s SONA is expected to focus on high unemployment and economic challenges.