Fisticuffs in South Africa’s parliament aren’t new, but a brawl during president Cyril Ramaphosa’s question time may give some telling signs about the state of the opposition.
Until a year ago, the Economic Freedom Fighters would hurl insults at the ruling African National Congress members and battle the security officers ordered to evict them. Fellow opposition parties would walk out of the chamber in solidarity. The common enemy was then-President Jacob Zuma.
On Tuesday, scuffles and accusations of racism by the two biggest opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the EFF, were followed by a fistfight between lawmakers from the EFF and a smaller group, Agang. As the drama unfolded, the ANC and Ramaphosa looked on bemused.
While the opposition appears focused on maligning each other, the ANC could capitalize in next year’s election on Ramaphosa’s personal favorable rating that research company Ipsos put at about 70% in July. With the ruling party replacing Zuma in February, it may have taken away the opposition parties’ biggest weapon and set them against each other.