South Africa Opposition Pursues Assault Charges After Parliament Brawl

Reuters, November 17, 2014

South Africa’s main opposition party said on Monday it had asked law-enforcement authorities to charge a government minister and police with assault after several of its parliamentary deputies were injured during a brawl.

Police entered the chamber during session on Thursday for the first time since the 1994 end of apartheid after a furious debate over alleged graft in a $23 million state-funded upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s house.

Critics said the episode, in which witnesses said lawmakers from the ruling African National Congress cheered as police physically ejected rival deputies, was an example of increased ANC thuggery to chill dissent. The ANC denies such accusations.

The ANC said the disturbance arose from “anarchy” caused by the two leading opposition parties, although TV footage showed members of all three parties trading insults. {snip}

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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela reported in March that Zuma had “benefited unduly” from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and an amphitheatre, at his residence and should pay back some of the costs of unnecessary renovations.

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Zuma has spoken of wrongdoing by officials who authorized spending on Zuma’s residence and said they should be prosecuted, but has not commented on accusations against himself.

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