ANC slams opposition Presidency budget boycott as “laughable”


The African National Congress (ANC) has described opposition parties’ boycotting of the Presidency budget vote in Parliament on Thursday, as nothing but a “laughable publicity stunt” driven by “mob psychology rather than substance”.

This comes after the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Congress of the People (Cope), United Democratic Movement (UDM), National Freedom Party (NFP) and Pan African Congress (PAC) opted not to attend the final day of debating the budget in protest against President Jacob Zuma.

It was Zuma’s first appearance in Parliament since the Constitutional Court ruled in March that he violated the Constitution by ignoring Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla report, and a week after the North Gauteng High Court stipulated that all 783 charges of corruption dropped against him in 2009, be reinstated.

“As representatives of the people of South Africa, we cannot in good conscience legitimise an empty speech of an utterly discredited and illegitimate President,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement minutes before the sitting was due to start.

“This collective decision was taken by opposition parties after much consideration to send a strong message to the South African people that the opposition won’t allow Zuma to trample on the constitution, ignore court rulings, and then come to Parliament and ask for more money for his office.

With the exception of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), most of the opposition benches were empty as the sitting ended after 32 minutes without any answer being provided to points raised during Wednesday’s chaotic first day, when members of the EFF were removed by the Parliamentary Protection Service for not allowing Zuma to speak.

In a statement, ANC spokesperson in the Office of Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, Moloto Mothapo, said no court judgment ever called for Zuma to be removed from office, and that the boycott also amounted to a “gimmick driven by typical opposition lies and deceit”.

“We wish to repeat these basic and irrefutable facts that no narrow and self-serving opposition propaganda can wish away: no judgment of any court of law has ever found that the President must be removed from office, the judgment on the so-called spy tapes case was directed at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) not the President, and the President is not facing any criminal charge,” Mothapo said.

“The opposition gimmick is therefore based on a grossly fallacious comprehension and undermining of both the rule of law and the Constitution, which, ironically, they purport to respect. Such dishonest and futile actions will never win any party the respect or the hearts of ordinary South Africans”.

Delivering his speech, Zuma took a swipe at the ongoing chaos effecting Parliament, saying he had become increasingly humiliated when the matter is raised during his visit abroad.

“Commenting as somebody who from time to time visits this House to participate, I believe your House needs to do more to bring it to order,” Zuma said referring to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

“I go around Africa and people ask me very embarrassing questions about this Parliament. Some are complaining that the manner in which we behave, we are changing the perception of South Africa. They are now saying you are influencing other people in a wrong way. It would be very important that you seriously bring this House into some order”.