Today's Big Stories

#SONA2015: "chaos" at EFF press conference while it's all systems go in Parly

Stephen Grootes coming to you live from Parliament

[CHAOS ERUPTS] At alternate EFF press conference

Earlier today, disgruntled EFF MP Andile Mngxitama called a press conference at the Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town, ahead of this evening's State of The Nation Address. EWN's Lauren Isaacs:

Chaos has completely broken out here. Members of the media were called to attend a press conference here at 12. Andile arrived 20 minutes late here and was stopped by members of the EFF, with members saying that Andile has no mandate to host this conference and a fight broke out. He was physically attacked and stopped from speaking to the media; he couldn't even speak.

Minutes after the altercation, Mngxitama tweeted that he is alright:

Check the chaos in photos, as it unfolded here.

#SONA2015: Parliament ready for tonight's address

Here in Parliament, the scene is set for the State of The Nation Address as the noon gun has fired, the sun shining brightly over the steps of the National Assembly and over the bust of Nelson Mandela. There's a hustle and bustle with security personnel in their uniforms of jackets and ties, along with overalls scurrying around. At the same time, broadcasting vans, lights and cameras are preparing for tonight’s action where President Jacob Zuma will be giving the Address - as he’s done several times before. Tonight, however, will be different - the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have said they will disrupt tonight’s address to ask the President when he will pay back the money spent by government on his home at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. One of the prime actors in tonight’s 7pm drama will be the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete:

Everything is very ready and because we've very consciously doing everything by the book this time, I feel more ready than I've ever been before. There's a heightened consciousness here and not just because of Julius Malema, but of processes set to unfold here. Julius Malema is also part of those processes. Of course, there is the 'new kid on the block' (the EFF) but since the 4th Parliament, there has been a process of re-looking the rules. (On Malema's claims that Mbete cried during the Pst. McCauley facilitated peace talks) He's dreaming - me? Cry? For what? Please!

Meanwhile, EFF Leader Julius Malema spoke ahead of this evening's proceedings on 702's John Robbie Show:

It can't be turned into chaos; it is Parliament, is should be robust. The best thing is to insist politely that you are demanding to be listened to, because you've got the right to do that. The President has never respected the conventions of answering questions.

ANC Chief Whip, Stone Sizani:

If anyone who disrupts here is breaking the rules, but we do expect them to do defy, which will result in a removal from the House - and they know that. The rules do say that if anyone is disruptive, they can be suspended for 5 years. There are also 31 of them (EFF MPs) and the number of the security services of Parliament are not equal to that number.

Director of the Institute for The Study of Democracy, Professor Steven Friedman:

It's not rocket science to work out why this is happening and it's no suprise to see that people in the media are looking forward to it and they are likely to get the theatre they are looking for. I think this would strike a cord with many people because there is legitimate anger at the President and legitimate anger over Nkandla. But it would be a great pity if the State of The Nation Debate would be about this; we need Parliament central to our democracy and we can't accept disruptions to Parliament.

Bid to have Hewitt case thrown out

In the court in Palm Ridge is an argument from the lawyer for former tennis player Bob Hewitt that the case of sexual abuse against him from his former students should be thrown out of court. EWN's Gia Nicolaides:

Bob Hewitt has taken the stand and this has seen some distress from the public gallery where some of the victims are sitting and many hadn't expected him to take the stand. What he said today in court is that he denies the two rape allegations and the allegations of sexual assault. He also said he had a good relationship with these girls, was concerned about their careers and their future and that he didn't once rub himself against them nor behave inappropriately.

New low-budget airline

A new low cost airline called Skywise has been launched on Wednesday, making it the second low-cost airline to launch in the last year. Co-Chairperson of Skywise, Tabassum Qadir:

We are different because we wouldn't be giving great value at a lower price. We don't want to compete too much on prices, but we want to give our clients more dignity and more value-added services. For instance, you don't have to pay for your first and second checked in bags. We want to compete on service rather than price.

Nkandla architect fights back

A report in the Daily Maverick notes that the Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya may now have to personally apply for documents relating to the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s home to be declassified. Makhanya's attorney is Barnabus Xulu:

The documents are relevant to the case and they will assist even the public to understand what is happening with the whole Nkandla saga. The internal memo from the Public Works Department refers to the issue of a budget. It also speaks to the issue of a security assessment - this document is very relevant.

Mining Indaba: SA society should get more skilled - Machel

Closing tonight in Cape Town is the Mining Indaba after several days of intense debate and analysis of our mining industry. Former First Lady Graca Machel was one of the prominent people who addressed the delegation there. EWN's Govan Whittles:

Graca Machel addressed the Alternate Mining Indaba, telling civil society organisations they should have better resources, technology and training in order to hold mining companies to account. Machel also noted that there should be more skilled South Africans in management positions, so that 10 years from now, we could have mines run entirely by South Africans seeking to stimulate the economy.

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