Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko was heckled and jeered by ANC MPs on Wednesday as she urged President Jacob Zuma not to stand for a second term in office.
Zuma sat expressionless as Mazibuko challenged him in the National Assembly over his leadership and said he was “often forced to bow” to the ANC's allies.
“It is clear to every South African that the president's failure to lead has paralysed his ability to govern,” Mazibuko said in a speech that was interrupted four times by her opposing MPs on points of order.
“I believe the president has failed to provide South Africa with justification as to why he should seek a second term, when his first term has fallen so far short of even the lowest expectations.
“Honourable president, for the sake of our country, will you put aside self-interest and not make yourself available for re-election?” Mazibuko asked.
She said Zuma was often forced to bow before “an unelected Congress of SA Trade Unions and others”.
Zuma was unable to drive policy that ran counter to the interests of the disparate factions that brought him to power, she said.
“By declaring himself unavailable for re-election, the president will not face the relentless pressure of trying to secure his position in what is set to be a brutal and protracted struggle for power,” said Mazibuko.
“He would be free to govern as head of state and not be constrained by his party’s alliance partners who have done so much to frustrate him.”
Mazibuko said Zuma would never be able to stamp his authority on his government because factions within the ANC did not share a common purpose.
A president and a government could lead only when they spoke with one voice and acted as one, she said.
“The president should be president of us all, not just the ANC. And he must govern in the interests of all; not only the ANC and its alliance partners.”
South Africa, she said, was “crying out” for leadership and direction.
“In these difficult days, we look to the president to give the nation hope to overcome despair. Yet he has failed to match the power of his office with a sense of purpose.
The president's attention had been diverted from his duties.
Energy spent on organising a march to the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg over a “satirical” painting of him had distracted from the serious work of government.
“Once again, representatives of the ANC, and some of its ministers, are attempting to close down the space for freedom of expression through bullying and intimidation,” she said. - Sapa