Post SONA debate day 1: DA and EFF react to Zuma’s speech

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 16, 2016

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) both launched scathing attacks and jibs at President Jacob Zuma, on the first day of debating his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Tuesday.

In his opening remarks, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the President had lost touch with the people of South Africa, and had resorted living on “Planet Zuma”.

“Planet Zuma is a place in a parallel universe, far, far away from the lives of ordinary South Africans. It is where a place where a swimming pool is called a fire pool, a place where all the continents of the world fit into Africa and a place where a President can replace an excellent Finance Minister with a backbencher that nobody has ever heard of,” Maimane said to claps and laughter from opposition benches.

“On Planet Zuma, there is no jobs crisis. This is why, in the President’s speech, we didn’t hear anything about the 8.3-million South Africans who are jobless. On Planet Zuma, our state owned enterprises are, in the words of the President, “performing well”, and on Planet Zuma, every problem can be solved by setting up a committee, a task team or a commission of inquiry”.

He also remarked that party opted to listen to the SONA out of respect for the Constitution, and not for Zuma, who he described as “a man who puts himself and his rich friends first while others suffer”.

“Jacob Zuma is not an honourable man. Because, if he was an honourable man, he would do the honourable thing and resign,” he said, resulting in National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete cautioning him against unparliamentarily language.

Maimane however continued, saying the gravitational forces of Planet Zuma, was pulling other members of the ruling party into its orbit, despite some being excellent at their jobs.

“We noticed the glum faces and muted applause on the ANC benches. We saw cabinet members wince as the President laboured his way through his speech. Every honourable member on this side of the House knows the damage that this man is doing to this country, and their party,” he said.

“But not one of you has the guts to speak out against what is happening. It is, quite simply, a failure of leadership. You should be ashamed”.

He also accused Zuma of having done little for the plight of many black South Africans, and that some had to give up on their dreams as a result of being unable to find work.

Addressing Zuma directly, Maimane stated that while his speech would have worked on Planet Zuma, “in the real world, it just didn’t cut it”.

“We need a President who is an example to his government, and to the nation, we need a President who is in touch with the people, and a President who puts the people first. You sir are not that President”, he said, before leaving the podium.

Speaking directly after him, EFF leader Julius Malema said the party would continue not recognising Zuma as President, describing him as “illegitimate” and “unable to run the country”.

“The signs were there that you were not a President, but we chose to ignore them,” Malema said, before listing a number of complaints.

“This is a man who knowingly had sex with an HIV-positive woman and said a shower cures it. This is a man who knowingly impregnated a friend's child, knowing he had other wives at home. This is another sign of your misjudgments”.

He also blasted the close relationship between Zuma and the controversial government connected Gupta family, before repeating his party’s previous statement that the family must leave the country.

Referring to the country’s economy, Malema remarked that Zuma should be blamed for a number of poor decisions that caused it to shrink, adding he would continue doing damage if not removed soon.

“Under Mr Zuma’s supervision, we will soon have no country left,” Malema said, before apologising to former President Thabo Mbeki, for being involved in his removal while still leader of the ANC Youth League.

“We were misled by this man, the president of the Republic of South Africa. Members of the ANC, you must discover yourselves. You are more Zuma members than ANC members”.

Concluding his speech, Malema, addressing Zuma as Mr Zupta, said, “Your legacy can be summed-up in three words; Mshini Wam, Nkandla, Guptas”.

EFF MP’s then left the chamber with Malema saying,” I can no longer debate an illegitimate President bye-bye”. The debate is expected to continue tomorrow with Zuma due to address the criticism on Thursday. 

Videos courtesy of Tribe2Tribes on YouTube.