Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- The EFF’s dramatic removal from Parliament during the State of the Nation Address was all part of the plan. According to IFP leader Mangosuthu Bhutelezi, he was warned in advance by the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi that “things were going to get rough” and that the EFF had come to Parliament to “do this sort of thing”. Bhutelezi was moved somewhere safer moments later, when the EFF was forcibly removed from the house by security.
- The DA – which staged a walkout during SONA proceedings – said it did not leave Parliament in solidarity with the EFF, saying it actually disagrees with the party’s tactics. However, it would be fighting its own battle, declaring that it would be heading to court over the deployment of over 400 soldiers outside Parliament, calling the move irrational, and saying it blocked citizens’ access. A press conference has been called on Friday to deliver the party’s plan of action.
- For the ANC’s part, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said that speaker Baleka Mbete was too patient with the EFF, and should have removed the party sooner. He said it was not fair to allow MPs to abuse the proceedings, and block those who wanted to listen to the president’s speech. He made no mention of the ANC members who hurtled abuse and expletives at members of the opposition.
- Experts, analysts and economists found President Zuma’s SONA to be lacking, with a lot of talk about ‘radical transformation’, but little substance to back up government’s new stance. The speech was described as ‘copy-paste’, with the rhetoric pointing to backing laws that are unpopular with investors. There was also an air of impatience over government’s constant patting itself on the back for delivering things like water and electricity, while providing no clear solution to bigger problems, like unemployment.
- South Africa’s rand weakened slightly on Thursday, weighed down by a rebound in the U.S. dollar, ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s annual state of the nation speech. The currency was unaffected by the chaos in Parliament, and more notably, by Zuma’s words. On Friday it was trading at R13.43 to the dollar, R16.78 to the pound and R14.31 to the euro.