The ‘Red Berets’ prevented the president from delivering his speech for more than an hour in protest against the criminal charges laid against him over the robbery at his Phala Phala farm.
THE EFF delivered on its promise to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s budget vote on Thursday, blocking his speech and calling the president a “criminal” and a “money launderer”.
The “Red Berets” prevented Ramaphosa from delivering his speech at Parliament’s Goodhope Chambers in Cape Town for more than an hour in protest against the criminal charges laid against him over the $4 million (more than R60m) robbery at his Phala Phala farm in Waterberg, Limpopo, in 2020.
Ramaphosa delivered his budget vote an hour late following disruptions from EFF MPs present in the House while others, including party leader Julius Malema, disrupted proceedings virtually.
On Tuesday, the EFF had vowed to disrupt Ramaphosa’s speech and prevent him from speaking in the name of South Africa until he vacated office.
It was a repeat of what the party did to former president Jacob Zuma whose speeches were repeatedly disrupted over the Nkandla scandal in 2016.
The chaos started when EFF MP Anthony Matumba raised a point of order complaining that some of the EFF MPs on the virtual platform were muted and could not participate. They included Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu.
After National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula asked for a break to fix the matter, Shivambu called for another point of order, saying that the party refused to be addressed by Ramaphosa as he was facing criminal allegations and was a “criminal” and a money launderer. Mapisa-Nqakula called on him to withdraw his statements.
Shivambu responded: “Point of order is that there’s not going to be any withdrawal for referring to Cyril Ramaphosa as a money launderer. That is a fact that has not been (disproved).”
Mapisa-Nqakula eventually ordered Shivambu out of the virtual platform, while two other EFF MPs were kicked out of the venue. “Can protection services act on this? I requested Honourable (Natasha) Ntlangwini and Honourable (Anthony) Matumba to leave and they are refusing. Remove them,” she said.
There were back-and-forth arguments between EFF MPs and the Speaker that eventually led to all EFF MPs, at the venue and on the virtual platform, being suspended.
Last to be thrown out of the chambers was an unidentified female EFF MP in the dying moments of Ramaphosa’s speech. She was yelling: “We are not going to be addressed by a criminal or by a money launderer.”
Responding to Mapisa-Nqakula’s call for security to remove her from the House, she said: “This not your House, it’s our Parliament. How are you calling security for. Are they MPs? Tell this criminal to go out first. I have never killed anyone in Marikana and yet you throw me out.”
It was not smooth sailing for the EFF MPs, though. The ANC benches, led by Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor, pushed back in defence of Ramaphosa.
As both the EFF and ANC MPs spoke past one another and tried to drown each other’s voices, almost turning the sitting into a beer hall, one ANC backbencher called Malema “the Commander in Thief”.
Another labelled Shivambu “VBS”, a derogatory name given to him after his brother Brian was implicated in the R2 billion looting of the now-collapsed Limpopo bank.
Other ANC members, including Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Agriculture, Land and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza and ANC MP Ponani Makhubele, tried in vain to counter EFF members and defend Ramaphosa.
When he eventually delivered the speech, Ramaphosa touched on the electricity problems that have gripped the country, promising to bring more capacity into the sector to curb the shortfall.
He said: ”We are on the cusp of a fundamental transformation in the electricity sector, which is undergoing the most significant reform process in our country’s history. Once these changes are implemented, we will have multiple generators competing to supply electricity at the lowest cost and selling power directly to customers.
“We will unleash new public and private sector investment in generation capacity on a massive scale. In the short term, however, we are seized with the need to get as much new generation capacity onto the grid as quickly as possible. We will soon be introducing extra measures to bring new capacity online. We will work to close the electricity gap in six ways:
“Firstly, improve the performance of existing power stations and ensure that additional units at Medupi and Kusile come online according to schedule.
“Secondly, ensure that projects from existing procurement programmes, including Bid Window 5, are able to connect to the grid as quickly as possible.
“Thirdly, accelerate private sector investment in generation capacity under 100MW. Fourthly, enable Eskom to purchase surplus power from existing power producers. Fifthly, support municipalities to procure power independently. Sixthly, encourage households and businesses to invest in small-scale solar power installations and feed energy to the grid.”
Earlier this week, at the party’s Joburg headquarters, Malema called on the president to step aside amid criminal allegations against him or face the wrath of the red berets during his budget vote.
This followed accusations around money laundering claims that involve a burglary at Ramaphosa’s farm in February 2020.
Last week former State Security Agency director-general Arthur Fraser claimed that Ramaphosa paid people to conceal the matter after they were tortured.
He said in a media statement that he had laid a charge of defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping suspects who were allegedly interrogated.