TIMELINE: Chaos, drama and #PayBackTheMoney at last year’s SONA

EFF members outside Parliament shortly after they were violently removed by police. PHOTO: Corbis Images

The 2015 state-of-the-nation was one of the most entertaining political highlights in South Africa as unexpected drama unfolded in Parliament.

In the first sitting by opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by controversial Julius Malema, many were anticipating how they would shake things up in the chambers.

As the country was tuned in, waiting for President Jacob Zuma to make his arrival, journalists came to the realisation that there was no cellphone signal in the chambers.

According to journalists and the Democratic Alliance (DA), there was a signal jamming device in Parliament, blocking viewers from hearing what was being said in Parliament.

This sparked outrage by journalists and under the leadership of Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee, journalists demanded that Parliament should #BringBackTheSignal.

The Twittersphere found humour in this.

After the air waves were unlocked, the session proceeded as usual. Our Number 1 took to the podium to begin his address.

But soon the EFF’s Godrich Gardee rose on a “point of privilege” to ask the President “When are you going to pay back the money?”

This was the start of a dramatic fist-throwing, jaw-dropping fight in Parliament that only a few managed to catch on camera.

(Video by News24)

Speaker Baleka Mbethe, who seemed to be reading from a script, announced that she would ask Parliament’s security officers to remove the red-dressed party. When their MPs refused to leave, the order was given for their forceful removal.

Parliament’s cameras failed to broadcast what followed.

However, with the help of smart phones, journalists managed to capture the violent moments. Dozens of men dressed in black pants and white shirts were seen manhandling EFF members, forcing them out of the chambers. ANC members were left cheering and ululating.

(Video by Terri Stander on YouTube)

Outside the chambers, Malema, in a ripped white T-shirt, claimed that seven of his members were injured during the forced exit. He said one of his members was hit in the face with a shoe.

Malema said the party would continue to raise their issues without fear of violence.

(Video by SA Daily News on YouTube)

Back inside the chambers, the DA demanded to know who exactly the security officers were. They asked whether they were members of the police or Parliamentary security services. Mbethe could not say exactly which they were.

Out of frustration, the DA MP’s all walked out.

(Video by eNCA on YouTube)

As the country now prepares for the drama that might unfold in this year’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday, Malema said the first question his party was going to ask the President is why he removed the former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

Malema was seen in “boxer” mode, throwing punches in the air in preparation for Zuma and the Nkandla fight which went to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

(Video by eNCA on YouTube)

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Rorisang Kgosana

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