“At a time when South Africa is in crisis, the constitutional role of Parliament has been severely undermined today, and the real issues that matter to South Africans have been forgotten,” DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
“While Parliament has been turned into a circus this evening, tomorrow the nation’s electricity crisis remains, unemployment remains, and crime continues to plague our communities.”
The DA walked out of the National Assembly before President Jacob Zuma could carry on with his state-of-the-nation address following disruptions by the EFF.
The official opposition wanted presiding officers to confirm whether police were used to remove the Economic Freedom Fighters from the House but its questions were not answered.
“By calling armed South African Police Service officers into the chamber to remove MP’s, the Speaker [Baleka Mbete] has violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers,” Maimane said.
“There is an important difference between the police and parliamentary security — one reports to the executive and the other to parliament.”
He said Parliament’s work could not be suppressed by security forces and police were not allowed to interfere with the work of political parties.
Mbete tried to get EFF members to sit down but they insisted that Zuma answer their questions about security upgrades to his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
Maimane said the EFF was wrong not to abide by Mbete’s ruling however armed police should not have been called.
“The parliamentary security should have removed them.
“But calling in armed police was a violation of the constitution that the DA cannot tolerate,” he said.
Thursday’s sitting was “nothing short of a disaster, and an insult to South Africans”.