JOHANNESBURG – The 2018 State of the Nation (SONA) has been postponed indefinitely. The 2017 SONA was filled with much controversy, which may be a forecast of the tensions that could unfold in 2018’s SONA.
1. Zuma giggling
President Jacob Zuma's famous laugh could be heard when the EFF and parliamentary security officers scuffled during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) .The Sona was disrupted when Economic Freedom Fighters MPs came to blows with parliamentary protection officers. EFF members chanted 'tsotsi' and 'Khwezi' while governing party members chanted 'ANC' as Zuma entered the house.
2. Democratic Alliance (DA) members walk out
Amid the violence that erupted during the SONA proceedings in 2017, the DA decided to walk out. Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa's opposition DA, speaking outside the venue, said, “The ANC has suspended the Constitution…Baleka (Mbete) has collapsed this Parliament into a department of the Zuma administration” .
3. Heavy police presence inside parliament
There was a heavy security presence consisting of members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and State Security Agency (SSA) that included heavily armed military police, which created a climate of intimidation.
4.The media was restricted
The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) expressed outrage over the intimidation of journalists covering the president's address. The group called on Parliament’s political and administrative leadership to seriously reconsider and review the progressive “heightening of security measures and securitisation” at Parliament.
5.The violent punch up
Parliamentary service officers and members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) exchanged blows inside parliament and outside the venue. Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete ordered the officers to evict the EFF MPs. The EFF fought back as security men dragged them from the National Assembly with some MPs using their trademark hard hats as weapons.