South Africa's parliament descended into a massive brawl today

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Zuma had earlier authorised more than 400 soldiers to join the security team outside the building during the speech, an unprecedented move his opponents described as a "militarisation" of parliament.

Mbete, who is also the national chairperson of the ANC, says she intends making it an annual networking event, adding that she hosted the first Speaker's Ball the night before last year's Sona.

The main opposition party walked out of parliament, led by official opposition leader Mmusi Maimane.

There were reports that police used stun grenades to disperse opposing factions.

Zuma has been the focus of corruption and cronyism allegations in recent times and he was shouted down by members of the EFF when he tried to give his speech to the South African parliament.

"This announcement is deeply concerning", the DA said in a statement yesterday.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters that soldiers were on standby but had not been deployed on the streets.

"It makes the decision on who the next leader of the ANC is so critical and some of the politics that we saw in the parliament today is playing into that kind of narrative".

The scope of the security lockdown was unprecedented since the end of apartheid more than two decades ago. "In politics there's a saying that your opposition sits in front of you and your enemies sit behind you, so he knows its no longer a friendly environment", Steenhuisen said.

Zuma's speeches have been disrupted before. Opposition MPs from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters' party (EFF) scuffled with security and other lawmakers live on national TV.

Silke said investors would remain cautious as they awaited details of the economic transformation Zuma evoked. Inflation hit 6.8 per cent in December and unemployment has risen to a 13-year high of 27 per cent.