Jean-Jacques Cornish

Chaos at opening of SA parliament

The traditional decorum accompanying the opening of South Africa’s parliament was shattered when members of the left wing Economic Freedom Fighters, including their leader Julius Malema were forcibly removed from the chamber.

Members of the opposition Democratic Alliance then walked out in protest against the presence of armed police in the House.

The delivery of President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation speech, traditionally listened to in silence by members in a joint sitting of the upper and lower houses, was delayed by an hour as red-boiler-suited members of the Economic Freedom Fighters rose on questions of privilege.

They asked when Zuma would comply with the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s ruling that he pay back money used to personally enrich himself from state-funded security improvements to his private home.

Speaker Baleka Mbete responded that this was not the occasion for such questions. When he persisted, she ordered Julius Malema to leave the chamber.

He refused.

When the Sergeant at Arms from the National Assembly and Black Rod from the National Council of provinces could not move him, Mbete ratcheted up matters.

Parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane led a walkout when the speaker would not confirm that the armed men involved in scuffles with the EFF members were police.

He told reporters in the lobby

That having police in the House violated the consitution and the rule of law that Nelson Mandela had worked for.

Zuma who grinned through the ruckus began his speech saying South Africa’s growth target of five percent annually was under threat because of slow global economic conditions.

However the job situation’s more promising with more than 15 million South Africans in employment.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.