All eyes are on parliament today as President Jacob Zuma presents his state of the nation address amid fears of chaos erupting in the House of Assembly as the EFF vows to disrupt him.
Severe security measures have been put in place, with the use of public order police not ruled out by senior parliamentary office bearers.
EFF leader Julius Malema has repeatedly vowed to use the event to hold Zuma accountable before the nation for the costs taxpayers incurred financing upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
Malema is expected to rise on a point of order the moment Zuma reaches the podium to start speaking. All the pressure will then be on National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to see whether she can remain calm and protect the decorum of the institution, and whether Malema will respect her authority.
In the past, the EFF have refused to respect her authority, citing alleged pro-ANC bias by Mbete, who also serves the ANC as its national chairwoman.
She is expected to grant him some leeway, but the question is what she will do if the EFF persists in raising many points of order, thereby delaying Zuma’s speech and hijacking his television time.
On Tuesday, National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise said she hoped it would not be necessary to call the police into parliament, but this week public order police officers were conspicuously present in the parliamentary precinct.
Last week, parliamentary security staff were trained by the police on how to control unruly crowds.
For Malema, too, the stakes are high. The EFF has hyped its proposed intervention in Zuma’s speech to such an extent that failure to make the desired effect could have serious political consequences for the EFF leader, who is battling various problems in his party.
The EFF have likened themselves to former president Nelson Mandela as they gear up to disrupt Zuma’s address at 7pm.
“Like Nelson Mandela who 25 years ago defeated the white minority rule, we remain fearless in the conviction that our government must be held accountable,” EFF national spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said yesterday, pointing out
-Jan-Jan Joubert, Thabo Mokone and Bianca Capazorio