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CAPE TOWN — An Agang MP’s outrage at an alleged racist remark made by the EFF descended into a near brawl between the two parties as the ANC luxuriated in the latest rowdy disruption of parliament no longer involving former President Jacob Zuma. Yesterday’s unseemly tussle – akin to tempers boiling over on a rugby field where the opposing players shove, parry and wrestle, knowing that a punch will cost them a red card, left the Speaker once more calling on security to remove the miscreants. Video footage shows an Agang MP rising on a point of order to complain that an EFF member had said whites could no longer speak in the chamber. He loses his temper at EFF members heckling and pointing at him, telling them to ‘’Eff-off,” eliciting some random papers thrown at him. A red-overalled EFF member then runs up to confront him. A short slap-and-parry encounter ensues before several more EFF members join in, creating a melee. All pretty par for the course by now in SA’s parliament, except it could represent a sea-change in inter-party dynamics as opposition forces turn on one another in the absence of an easy common enemy. An early indicator for the upcoming polls? – Chris Bateman
Until a year ago, the Economic 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 capitalise in next year’s election on Ramaphosa’s personal favourable rating that research company Ipsos put at about 70 percent 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.
South African lawmaker brawl interrupts Ramaphosa question time
Scuffles and accusations of racism by the two biggest opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, were followed by a fistfight between lawmakers from the EFF and Agang. Nazier Paulsen from the EFF, whose MPs wear red overalls to reflect their working-class support, jumped over benches to attack Andries Tlouamma, who had sworn at him.
The scenes were reminiscent of the fighting that regularly delayed sittings by former President Jacob Zuma, who the EFF would refuse to allow to speak amid allegations of graft. Proceedings have largely been cordial since Ramaphosa replaced Zuma in February, and in previous arguments, the lawmakers would battle with security personnel rather than their fellow legislators.
“None of us can be proud about what happened in the house today,” said Thoko Didiza, the presiding officer.