Marchers flood the streets of downtown Cape Town on Thursday ahead of President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address.  Picture: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX/TMG MULTIMEDIA
Marchers flood the streets of downtown Cape Town on Thursday ahead of President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address. Picture: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX/TMG MULTIMEDIA

TENSION erupted in the Cape Town central business district (CBD) on Thursday as Ses’khona members, some of them clad in African National Congress (ANC) T-shirts, threw stones and bottles at riot police as officers tried to push the protesters further away from Parliament.

The controversial Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement wanted to march to Parliament and the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) offices to protest against racism, among other things. However, the group was granted a permit only to gather in the CBD, away from the Parliamentary precinct, which has been under lockdown for most of the day ahead of the state of the nation address.

The leaders of the group insisted on Thursday that they would march to Parliament despite the permit restrictions in place, setting the stage for a clash with the riot police, who had blocked some of the roads to Parliament with barbed wire and pedestrian barriers.

"This is meant to be a peaceful protest, but these police clearly want to fight with us. This is clearly racism...why are they pushing us away?" asked one protester amid the commotion.

Earlier, the Zuma Must Fall campaign supporters peacefully marched through the CBD to the Grand Parade demanding that the president step down. The march ended without incident.

The Zuma Must Fall campaign has attracted a massive following on social media and made headlines last month when a large Zuma Must Fall sign was erected in Cape Town. The poster hugged one side of a block of flats at the top of Long Street.

Some Economic Freedom Fighters member clashed with riot police on Thursday as they picketed near Parliament. Some of the members traded blows with the police and stun grenades were fired. The situation is tense and chaotic.