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Zuma’s final Parli Q&A in detail (watch video)

Zuma’s final Parli Q&A in detail (watch video)

President Jacob Zuma has brushed aside allegations that a lack of funding would continue to hamstring the Department of the Higher Education, saying money would be made available in light of the zero percent student fee increases.

Addressing the National Assembly in Parliament on Thursday as part of his final questions and answers sessions for the year, Zuma said a commission setup by the department, would ensure that funds be made available when institutions re-open after the festive season next year. He however didn’t specify as to how the funds would be sourced.

Responding to a supplementary question by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) National Spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on government’s position towards a “fees free education system”, Zuma stated that the commission would look into the matter before introducing it.

“You can't have an autonomy that is absolute, it must be balanced. Free education is part of ANC’s policy. We have already started implementing this by having schools that are fees free. Free fees universities are currently being addressed by the department,” he said.

Zuma’s now infamous laughter throughout most of the session threatened to throw proceedings into chaos after Ndlozi remarked that he was not taking matters seriously, when questioned by fellow EFF MP, Hlengiwe Maxon, on his recent comments that the ANC’s interest comes before the country, as well as the appointment of his former adviser, Glenton Mashinini, as new Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson.

Watch: EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi asks why President Jacob Zuma laughs at serious questions as if its a Trevor Noah show. Courtesy of Tribe2Tribes:

“The President answers a question, says absolutely nothing then laughs. It means what we are saying are jokes. This is not Trevor Noah’s show. He comes to Parliament to laugh while the people of the country want answers,” a visibly annoyed Ndlozi said while being told to sit down by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

Responding to Maxon’s comments about Mashinini, Zuma said the pair just colleagues and that he was selected as a result of his qualifications.

“I never hired my friend. I was not even involved in the hiring process. They saw his name, selected it and saw that they had the right qualifications for the job. So where do I fit in all that?” he said.

Proceedings then became heated when Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, Geordin Hill-Lewis, questioned Zuma again on his comments that the interests of the ruling party comes before South Africa.

“The message you are sending to civil servants and politicians around the country, is that they can put the party before the country. Would you please correct your statement and assure us that the country comes first,” Hill-Lewis said.

“I was elected as the leader of the ANC first before becoming State President. When I speak to ANC members, I speak as the ANC president, and when I speak to the country, I speak as state president. Who came first, the ANC or democracy?” a defined Zuma said to jeers of  “answer the question”.

“This (ANC elective conference in KwaZulu-Natal) was an ANC meeting discussing ANC issues. We pay no attention to what the DA does. Why are you so interested in the ANC? The ANC is taking the country to prosperity”.

This resulted in DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, rising to complain that Zuma had not answered the question properly. Told by Mbete that he was not recognised to speak, Maimane continued, saying, “The President must answer which comes first, the ANC or South Africa. He is not answering the question.”

Watch: DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, rising to complain that President Jacob Zuma is not answering questions. Courtesy of Tribe2Tribes;

Hill-Lewis’ rebuttal that Zuma had failed to answer his question was also rebuked by Mbete, who remarked that his opportunity to ask had come and gone.

Minutes later, as Zuma was finishing the debate, Maimane rose again to enquire whether an application for a question by party Chief Whip John Steenhuisen to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, submitted before proceedings started about the proposed R4-billion jet for Zuma, would be granted.

“A letter (from the office of the speaker) was send to the DA (stating) that the rules do not allow us to do what is being requested. The business of the House has been completed, therefore there would be no statement from the President,” Mbete said.

Maimane then jumped –up, requesting that Zuma provide clarification, before accusing Mbete of protecting him. Moments later, ANC Deputy Chief Whip Dorris Dlakula said the matter was not raised in the programming community or with the various chief whips, and that the question would not be granted.

Watch: DA's Mmusi Maimane accusing National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete of protecting President Jacob Zuma Courtesy of Tribe2Tribes: 

Mbete then adjourned the sitting with Maimane continuing to accuse her of protecting Zuma.