Scuffling, heckling in South African parliament

South African President Jacob Zuma in Berlin, Germany, in November 2015.

Story highlights

  • Economic Freedom Fighters and security get physical in National Assembly
  • Opposition party members dragged out during president's annual address

(CNN)Fistfights broke out in South Africa's National Assembly on Thursday as opposition lawmakers protesting President Jacob Zuma were dragged out of the chamber during his annual State of the Nation address.

Zuma's address was delayed by 90 minutes as the Economic Freedom Fighters and other political parties disrupted the proceedings in Cape Town.
EFF lawmakers called Zuma an "ANC thief" as he walked into the National Assembly and protesters called for his removal. Parliamentary security kicked out the EFF protesters, who also were ousted from parliament when they interrupted the speech last year.
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After the EFF lawmakers were ejected, the Democratic Alliance, another opposition party, walked out of the assembly in protest.
Zuma then spoke to the somewhat empty assembly hall.

Opponents call on Zuma to resign

Zuma is an "illegitimate" leader, the EFF lawmakers said, after the highest court in the land ruled last year that he violated the constitution over spending taxpayers money on non-security upgrades to his home.
Another point of contention was the deployment of defense forces to maintain "law and order" during the speech. Opposition parties criticized the move calling it a "war on civilians."
"You are a constitutional delinquent," one opponent asserted, speaking of Zuma. "You have to leave."
He has been nicknamed the Teflon President for his ability to survive scandals. Last year, Zuma received the backing of his African National Congress party just weeks after a damning report.
The report sparked demonstrations in the capital Pretoria earlier this month, with crowds of protesters -- many wearing the red shirts of the Economic Freedom Fighters -- calling for Zuma's resignation.
He has been criticized over what critics say are questionable business deals, top-level government cronyism and some ministerial appointments.