Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was left heartbroken when Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) Mbuyiseni Ndlozi gave him a heads up that things were about to get rough, and that he move from his seat in Parliament.
Speaking after the State of the Nation Address on Thursday night, Buthelezi said he was heartbroken by Ndlozi's suggestion moments before violence broke out in the National Assembly for Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation at the opening of Parliament.
"I'm very ashamed by the disruptions. Mr Ndlozi is a very close friend of mine and he suggested I should move from where I'm sitting because it was going to get rough. It told me that they came here planning to do this kind of thing," said Buthelezi.
Following Ndlozi's warning, the IFP leader stood up during proceedings asking the presiding officers where he should go before the violence broke out.
"I'm being told to move from where I'm sitting because it's going to get rough. I don't know where to go," he said.
He was advised to sit down by the speakers as no violence was expected but the peace lasted for only a few moments. He was ushered out of harm's way before Parliament's security personnel entered the chambers to remove members of the EFF.
Fists and hard hats started flying as they were thrown out. The National Assembly soon resembled a wrestling ring. EFF members were carried out and pepper spray was used in the process. The smell lingered long after they were removed resulting in a few people including President Jacob Zuma coughing.
National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise at the end of the programme condemned the use of pepper spray, saying it was never supposed to have entered Parliament's corridors.
Buthelezi said he had hopes that this year's proceedings would not be marred by violence. He said such scenes don't do the image of the country any favours in the eyes of the world.
"I was thinking that this kind of thing was going to stop. It really breaking my heart to see that it's getting worse. From the point of view of the image of the country, of us as a democracy, it does a lot of harm to us. If I was an investor in any country wanting to come here, I wouldn't be encouraged by scenes like these. I don't think it takes us forward to continue to do that. I hope they can learn that in a democratic society, people can agree without being disagreeable," he said.
Buthelezi praised President Jacob Zuma's economic transformation standpoint. He also welcomed government's commitment to addressing the fee crisis in tertiary education.
"When I came to Parliament I didn't expect fireworks from the Sona or anything that would impress me but I would say on the whole by and large, the programme was about transformation of the economy. That as a statement of intent can't be faulted. In terms of 'Fees Must Fall', he also mentioned some of the money set aside. It does indicate that young people are being heeded by the government," said Buthelezi.Suggest a correction