JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's political factions criticized each other on Friday after scuffles and angry speeches in parliament ended with police entering the chamber and removing one opposition member.
The ruling party, the African National Congress, described the National Assembly as a "chaotic circus" following Thursday's uproar. The opposition said the ruling camp was undermining parliamentary rules to protect President Jacob Zuma from scrutiny.
The nationally televised debate in parliament became unruly when opposition parties attempted to delay a vote absolving Zuma of wrongdoing in a scandal over more than $20 million in state spending on Nkandla, his private compound.
The parliamentary session ended when police removed a member of an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, after she refused to withdraw a statement criticizing the president.
"Zuma is the greatest thief in the world," opposition member Ngwanamakwetle Mashabela repeated. She refused to leave the podium.
The television broadcast was interrupted as police entered the National Assembly, but members of parliament were heard shouting "Get out" and "No police in the house."
Opposition party members tweeted photographs of police surrounding Mashabela, who was dressed as a housemaid as part of a campaign to identify with the poor.
Despite the chaos, the majority African National Congress voted in favor of a recommendation to absolve the president from any financial wrongdoing. The recommendation was made by a parliamentary committee that had been boycotted by the opposition.