ANC taunts opposition as Sona debate intensifies
DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane has been referred to as a broken black man in a “broken sea of white conservative white males”.
What started off as a fairly dignified sitting with barely any heckling between Members of Parliament quickly turned into howling matches, hand gestures and a tense stand-off between the Economic Freedom Fighters and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on the second day of the State of the Nation Address debate.
The ruling party took the opportunity to regain the upper hand in Parliament yesterday, turning the tables on opposition party members who had used the podium the day before to pound on President Jacob Zuma. ANC MPs Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele, Justice Minister Mike Masutha and MP Dikeledi Magadzi tore into the Democratic Alliance and the EFF yesterday, taking turns praising the president while lamenting the behaviour of the two parties during the Sona.
‘Playing the man instead of the ball’
Using words from DA parliamentary leader’s speech the day before, MP Bongani Mkhongi called EFF leader Julius Malema and Mmusi Maimane broken men who tried to break the rules of the house to satisfy their broken egos, referring to the disruption of the Sona by the EFF members and the walkout of DA members.
“They come here on Tuesday to lecture us about the characteristics of a broken man. They suggest that you Mr President, you are a broken man and that you failed to implement the Freedom Charter and lead our struggle for economic freedom.
“These broken minds say ours is a broken society. It is a broken country with broken constitutional democracy. The way they are so broken Mr President; they say all these things in the House that is democratically constituted. They participate in the periodic democratic elections in this country. All these elections were declared free and fair. When they are defeated in this Parliament they run to our functional and capable Judicial System.
“The principle of the separation of powers is alive in this country. They say all these things because their only mission in this Parliament is to attack and break the personality of the Head of State. They are obsessed with one man, President Jacob Zuma. They are unable to provide a viable alternative to our people because they preside over broken organisations. They are playing the man instead of the ball,” he said to resounding applause from the ANC MPs.
The MP called Maimane a broken-hearted young man. “He is a broken young black man in the broken blue sea of white conservative males. He is utterly undermined. He does not have the support of his party especially the conservative white males. We saw him last year breaking down in this Parliament after his instructions to the DA caucus was broken down and defied by his colleagues. He is a troubled man.”
Tensions rose when Masutha said the presiding officers had a right to call in the army to deal with unruly behavior, which led to fierce protests from the EFF and points of order from the DA.
What was supposed to be a 20 minute speech turned into more than 40 minutes of heckling when the minister had to sit down several times as EFF MPs took turns raising points of orders, with Malema at times shouting at Masutha to sit during points of order. EFF MP Mbuyiseli Ndlozi said Masutha was commenting on a matter that was sub judice and asked him to withdraw it.
While National Council of Provinces deputy chairperson Raseriti Tau said they were not aware of the court action, he did ask MPs to refrain from using it, which did little to deter ANC MPs from referring to the matter during their speeches.
Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown delivered punch lines against the official opposition without breaking stride from her speech, which was focused on energy and the electricity supply challenge.
Service delivery failures
DA MP Nqaba Bhanga, who was called a party hopper by ANC MPs during his speech, said more than 20 years later they were still waiting for the ruling party to make good on its promise to address and remedy the injustices of land removals and dispossession.
“There is unacceptably high failure rates in terms of agricultural activity on land transferred through the land reform programme. Minister [Gugile] Nkwinti himself has put the failure rates at between 73% and 90%.
“The agricultural sector is heavily indebted and is dependent on the provision financial loans for its survival and growth. Destroy the value of the land on which debt is based and it will destroy the provision of finance. The emerging farmer will suffer as a result.”
Former Eastern Cape premier and now DA MP Nosimo Balindlela blasted the ANC for lack of service delivery in the province. “The taps that were installed in Khalimashe Village last year are dry, like so many taps in so many other communities across South Africa. There is a water crisis in this country and the rural poor are suffering the most. For once be honest about the scale of the problem. The current ANC government has long forgotten that they are here to serve the people.”
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe used his limited time to condemn what happened during Sona last week, including the jamming of the signals, while Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said the ANC were experts only in scapegoat politics.
The later part of the programme turned into a roasting session again yesterday, with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande laying into EFF’s Malema, which led to the fighter standing and proclaiming that he was not afraid of him.
Nzimande also asked the DA never to wear black in the house again, as that will create nightmares for his grandchildren.
Meanwhile, the DA yesterday said they had filed papers in the Western Cape High Court following last week’s removal of EFF MPs from the National Assembly during the Sona.
DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said they wanted section 11 of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act removed, which allowed the speaker to order the removal of anyone who creates a disturbance during a sitting.
This after EFF MPs were violently removed from the chamber by police and parliamentary protection services last Thursday.
Article first published by www.mg.co.za