SA opposition ejected from parliament

Members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leave the parliamentary chamber as South Africas President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address in Cape Town, February 11, 2016.Image copyright

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Opposition MPs had also disrupted Mr Zuma’s state of the nation address in February

Politicians from an opposition South African party have been removed from parliament after they tried to block President Jacob Zuma from speaking.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs heckled and chanted “Zuma leave the house” during his first appearance in parliament since two damning court rulings against him.

The speaker ordered security officers to throw them out.

On Friday, a court said that Mr Zuma should be charged with corruption.

The case is related to a multi-billion dollar arms deal the government negotiated in 1999.

Last month, South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, ruled that Mr Zuma had violated the constitution when he failed to repay government money used to upgrade his private home in the rural area of Nkandla.

Mr Zuma denies any wrongdoing, and says he will continue to “shepherd” the nation. His term is due to end in 2019.

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Mr Zuma is under pressure over alleged corruption

Punches were exchanged and parliamentary benches knocked over as plain-clothed security officers dragged the EFF MPs out of their seats and evicted them from the chamber, AFP news agency reports.

The MPs had earlier denounced Mr Zuma as an “illegitimate” ruler who should step down.

“We are going to debate giving him money today, when he is facing over 700 charges of corruption,” EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said, South Africa’s News24 site reports.

Mr Zuma seemed not to be bothered by the chaotic scenes, and delivered a speech in which he focused on government plans to improve South Africa’s struggling economy.

“Economic transformation remains pivotal to ensuring a better life for all,” he said.

The High Court said on Friday that prosecutors should review their 2009 decision to drop 783 charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering against Mr Zuma over the arms deal.

After the Constitutional Court ruling, the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, failed in a bid to impeach Mr Zuma as the governing African National Congress (ANC) rallied behind him in parliament.

Controversial arms deal: What you need to know

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  • 1999: largest-ever post-apartheid arms deal announced with contracts totalling 30bn rand ($5bn; £2.5bn) to modernise national defence force
  • Deal involved companies from Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, France and South Africa
  • Allegations of bribery over deal dogged governments of President Jacob Zuma and predecessor Thabo Mbeki
  • Mr Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik convicted in 2005 for corruption over deal. Found guilty of trying to solicit bribe from Thint, local subsidiary of French arms firm Thales, on behalf of Mr Zuma – then deputy president. Released on parole on health grounds after serving just over two years
  • Another official, Tony Yengeni, chairman of parliament’s defence committee at time of deal and ANC chief whip, convicted of fraud in 2003. Also freed on parole after serving five months of four-year sentence
  • April 2016: commission of inquiry into deal found no further evidence of corruption or fraud.

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