The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday followed through with their promise to disrupt the Presidency Budget Vote over criminal allegations against President Cyril Ramaphosa. Chaotic scenes, similar to those characteristic of former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure, delayed Ramaphosa’s address by nearly an hour.
The hybrid sitting of Parliament was marred by incessant disruptions before EFF members were booted. The party sought to prevent Ramaphosa from tabling the Presidency budget, citing the criminal investigation into the robbery at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo. MPs wanted him to come clean on the alleged cover-up of the crime.
Phala Phala is the ‘New Nkandla’
Last week, former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general, Arthur Fraser, made startling revelations about an undisclosed sum of money, believed to be millions of US dollars, that was stolen from Ramaphosa’s private farm in the Bela Bela area.
Ramaphosa subsequently denied being involved in any criminal activity.
The leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), John Steenhuisen, compared the Phala Phala scandal to the Nkandla scandal that rocked the Zuma presidency. He questioned whether Ramaphosa’s administration was any different than that of Zuma’s.
“You have to be open and transparent so that the people of this country can know you are serving them well and with integrity. But you are none of these things. There is only suspicion, secrecy and silence. How exactly are you different to your predecessor, Mr. President?”
“The fact that you used your significant powers and resources – paid for by the taxpayers of this country and funded through this budget – to conceal any evidence of this money tells me that the real story is something your presidency probably cannot survive.”
Disruption and chaos at budget vote
Earlier this week, EFF leader Julius Malema vowed to use the same approach of disruption against Ramaphosa should he refuse to quit. It was made clear on Thursday that the EFF would follow through when party members heckled the sitting of Parliament.
EFF deputy leader, Floyd Shivambu, said Ramaphosa was in no position to address the National Assembly.
“We’ve got a right here in Parliament to raise an issue of a president who is accused of serious crimes,” he said.
“The message is clear that we cannot be addressed by a money launderer. We cannot be addressed by a criminal [and] a kidnapper. You can’t throw me out for telling the truth,” he said as Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula attempted to restore order.
Meanwhile, MPs from the African National Congress (ANC) yelled over Shivambu’s voice, pointing out Shivambu’s own VBS Mutual Bank scandal.
Ramaphosa will return to respond to the debate on Friday morning.