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SONA 2017: South Africa is ‘on the doorstep of dictatorship’ local analysts

By Jesica Slabbert - Feb 10, 2017
SONA 2017: South Africa is ‘on the doorstep of dictatorship’ local analysts

Following another massive brawl and disagreements at the National Assembly during President Jacob Zuma’s 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, a local political analyst said that South Africa was now on the verge of a dictatorship.

He was speaking at a post-SONA discussion following a screening at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth.

Two independent political analysts, Nqaba Bhanga, a member of the Mayoral Council of Nelson Mandela Bay; and Ongama Mtimka, a political science lecturer at NMMU and PHD candidate, led the discussions.

“In that one hour and twenty minutes of chaos, I had all kinds of emotions. I was dejected, frustrated abased, and in the end I was actually in awe at what the opposition parties had done,” said Mtimka.

“If you look at the posturing and the psychological brutality of having the army and police there, and the whole stage managing of the process and the tactical switching off of the mics at certain times, then I have to say that we are in a dictatorship when it comes to order from Parliament.”

He said that he thinks there was determination by the opposition parties to embarrass and expose “what you call a country of shame” adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if the opposition parties caucused together and planned how they were going to exit Parliament.

“I sat there thinking, to which extent does one push the boundaries. Is what the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  are doing bad because it is turning around what we understand to be concepts of nobility and civility, or is it sheer rudeness or crude politicking?” questioned Mtimka.

“It may well be that we’ve arrived in a time in this country, where you need that level of crudeness to show that, in fact, ours is a failed system.”

He also said that President Zuma’s speech itself was very good, but added that people would have liked to hear more about the issue of university fees and more details about the progress from the topics of last year’s speech.

However, Bhanga said that; “President Zuma, with this SONA, failed to talk about how to bring the people together, how to build South Africa together. Under their leadership you see our country and society being divided.”

He said that people are becoming agitated and motivated by the instability and the lack of leadership that we have.

“A country of shame, there were all these honourable people sitting and watching a President laughing amidst the violence. You have a human being, who does not understand the sensitivity when the institutions of the State and the Constitution begin to doubt his authority,” he described.

“When he (Zuma), spoke about our economy, he said that we have succeeded in protecting our economy from going into downgrade. Meaning that what we should be doing is to protect our economy not to go into downgrade, because he understands that he killed our economy to an extent that promoting economic growth is a pipe-dream for him.”

Bhanga said because of failed policies, the African National Congress (ANC) was now drifting towards a dictatorship with the announcement of a new radical economic transformation drive by the President.

“Any liberation movement, when it has nothing to offer, it must be like Robert Mugabe. They have reached a climax of delivery, they can’t promise anything, and so now they have to say the only thing to do is to transform the economy in a radical fashion,” he explained.

“We must have an economy that creates opportunities for people, not one where people are going to depend on the economy for social grants. He fails to provide us with solutions on how he is going to create jobs.”

Bhanga then went over the many issues brought up by Zuma and how he did not provide any concrete solutions to the problems and that the input from the government is not equal to the output.

“Our country is at the doorstep of dictatorship. What we have seen today is an indicator of dictatorship,” he concluded.