‘Mr President, lead or step aside’

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Copy of ct zuma done INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS President Jacob Zuma congratulates Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa after he made his maiden speech as deputy president in the National Assembly during the debate on the Presidency. Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma should lead or step aside, says DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, who called into question the president’s leadership abilities.

The DA also called for the formation of a portfolio committee to oversee the Presidency after Parliament approved its budget of R1.1 billion. MPs debated Zuma’s budget vote on Wednesday where the two biggest opposition parties criticised it and the much vaunted National Development Plan (NDP).

“Who will make the tough decisions to boldly lead us on a plan to a future of South African greatness, to a land of opportunity for all? Bold leadership is the difference between more and more of the same, or real and meaningful progress,” said Maimane.

He said without “bold leadership”, the government’s NDP was being stalled by “enemies”, the alliance partners of the ANC. “To lead is to take the difficult and bold decisions necessary to return South Africa to the path of greatness. To lead is to take one’s cue from this Parliament, not the Parliament that is Luthuli House.”

He said when the president fails to lead, “but is rather simply a political captive being led”, then it is time for him to “step aside”. “Mr President, lead or step aside.”

DA MP Sej Motau said in the context of South Africa’s “serious problems”, there are significantly huge costs for Zuma’s travel and subsistence.

“And yet, this Parliament has not established a portfolio committee to exercise oversight on the president and the deputy president to account to Parliament and the nation for the vast amounts of money spent in the Presidency.”

Motau said the travel and subsistence amount increased to R110.4 million in the 2015/2016 financial year and R118.3m in 2016/17. “This Parliament elects the president and should exercise oversight on how budgets voted for the office are spent,” said Motau.

EFF leader Julius Malema said proposals contained in the NDP were not practical.

“The NDP does not have protected industrial development at the centre of development that South Africa should undergo until 2030,” he said.

He also suggested that the ANC should change its slogan to “there’s a good drama to tell” as opposed to a “good story to tell”. “Because what we’ve been hearing here is just drama. It is indeed a drama when a sitting president fails to meet his own deadlines when submitting the report on Nkandla,” said Malema.

“It is a drama when the sitting president promises the people of Giyani water and five years down the line they do not have water. It is a drama when he promises the people of Venda a hospital, yet they do not have a hospital.”

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said when the last term ended the country was R1.5bn in debt. “What is happening is that we have lost fiscal space, money available for services and needs of the people. I had thought that the president would do something. That was not done, in fact now we have a much bigger government,” said Lekota.

The government was diverting even more resources towards servicing the state “and less for the people”.

Zuma said the country had completed the transition to the fifth administration “seamlessly”, following successful national general elections.

“It is an honour for the ANC government to continue to lead the country, towards the creation of a truly united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa,” said Zuma.

Zuma will respond to the debate on the Presidency budget on Thursday.

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