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Empty opposition benches proof Zuma and Mbete have failed SA - Cope

Empty opposition benches proof Zuma and Mbete have failed SA - Cope

The Congress of the People (Cope) has called for both President Jacob Zuma and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to step down in order “restore the dignity of Parliament”.

This comes after the President issued a warning to Mbete during the Presidency’s budget speech in Parliament on Thursday that more needs to be done in order to prevent the House from degenerating with each sitting.

“I go around Africa and people ask me very embarrassing questions about this Parliament. Some are complaining that the manner in which we behave, 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,” Zuma said.

During the sitting’s first day of the debate on Wednesday, Parliamentary Protection Services had to be called after disgruntled Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) MP objected to Zuma’s presence inside the Chamber, arguing that he not address members in light of the Constitutional Court ruling in March and reinstatement of corruption charges against him last week.

It was later announced that sixteen of the party’s members had been suspended from all Parliament activities for five working days.

Minutes before Zuma was due give feedback on points raised, the Democratic Alliance (DA), along with Cope, the EFF, Freedom Front Plus (FF+), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), United Democratic Movement (UDM), National Freedom Party (NFP) and Pan African Congress (PAC), announced it would not attend the sitting in protest against him.

“Under the very fair, impartial and dignified Speaker Max Sisulu, there was great decorum in the National Assembly. After Ms Mbete took over with a clear agenda to protect Mr Zuma, the House descended into utter chaos. Her deployment has backfired massively,” Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said.

“She is biased, arrogant and conflicted. She is so transparent in her bias that she has lost total control of the House. She commands no respect whatsoever. Neither does Mr Zuma. Between the two of them, they have succeeded in making parliament the national and international “embarrassment” that Mr Zuma acknowledges that it has become”.

Bloem said the National Assembly no longer represents the interest of the people, and that the presence of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has the sole opposition party in Parliament during the sitting, “spoke loudly and clearly of the trust deficit in the present leadership of the ruling party”.

“Whereas the presidents who preceded him held the nation together and managed the economy well, Mr Zuma has presided over a South Africa tearing itself apart and teetering at the edge of economic collapse,” Bloem continued.

“Mr Zuma should publicly declare that he and Ms Mbete have dismally failed the nation. On top of that, he should acknowledge that neither of them qualifies to continue in office after the findings of the Constitutional Court. They should exit before they ruin our country utterly. The empty opposition benches signified near zero confidence in Mr Zuma and Ms Mbete”.