Cabinet ministers nearly came to blows late last night after a silent protest by EFF activists during President Jacob Zuma’s speech at the Independent Electoral Commission results centre in Pretoria.
Furious ministers Nomvula Mokonyane, Lindiwe Zulu and Bathabile Dlamini were seen by the Sunday Times confronting Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula over what they saw as a serious security breach. The four women protesters, dressed in black, stood silently in front of the stage carrying placards as Zuma spoke.
The protesters, who included student activists Simamkele Dlakavu and Naledi Chirwa, staged the protest to mark 10 years since Zuma was acquitted on a charge of raping a woman who became known as Khwezi. The women all had IEC accreditation tags that identified them as part of the EFF election team.
Dlamini and Zulu had to be physically restrained by staff members from attacking Mapisa-Nqakula, who they claimed was responsible for the embarrassment, as she was present in her capacity as head of cabinet’s security cluster. Mokonyane shouted: “You sold us out! This can’t be! You sold us out!” The three ministers were forced into a corner by their staff in an attempt to calm them down while a shaken Mapisa-Nqakula shook her head and walked back to her seat.
The four protesters carried placards reading: “I am 1 in 3 #”, “10 years later”, “Khanga” and “Remember Khwezi”. Just before Zuma got on stage to accept the election results officially
from the IEC, EFF leaders staged a walkout from the hall, while the four women rushed to the front of the stage.
As they protested, Zuma aide Professor Ndawonde asked programme director and IEC spokeswoman Kate Bapela “to do something”. She did not respond. Then Mapisa-Nqakula went to consult Zuma’s security detail, who also did not move.
Mokonyane was livid, questioning the work of intelligence services. “They sit and drink, and they don’t do anything. “Why did they not sweep the place?” an enraged Mokonyane asked her colleagues.
As Zuma completed his speech, the protesters were forced out of the hall by security staff. They were overheard screaming as they were being pushed out. Dlakavu later tweeted: “We are all okay. Thank You. #RememberKhwezi.”