President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation address in strict adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations. Picture: Esa Alexander/Pool
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation address in strict adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations. Picture: Esa Alexander/Pool

Ministers back Ramaphosa despite SONA debate backlash

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Feb 18, 2021

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Cape Town - ANC ministers came out in support of President Cyril Ramaphosa after he was attacked by opposition parties for failing to fix the economy, and fight Covid-19 and rampant corruption across the state.

Despite opposition parties sticking to their guns that Ramaphosa had failed to rein in those involved in corruption or to fight the spread of Covid-19 through the proper roll-out of vaccines, the ANC said the party was on the right track.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told Parliament during the debate on the State of the Nation Address, that action had been taken to get the country working again.

However, EFF leader Julius Malema, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, the ACDP’S Kenneth Meshoe and John Steenhuisen of the DA said the country was in a state of paralysis.

Mkhize said they were ramping up efforts to ensure many people would be vaccinated. He said they had been speaking to pharmaceutical companies on the supply of vaccines in the next few months.

“I can also say that we have actually secured enough doses to vaccinate all the people who will need to be vaccinated in South Africa,” said Mkhize.

The first in line to be vaccinated were health-care workers, he said.

Holomisa said corruption was rife and the government needed to crack down on those involved in it.

Malema and Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had not been able to lead the country over the past three years. Malema said corruption was on the increase.

“Under your watch, Mr President, corruption is on the rise. For instance, only 26% of the national and provincial departments and state-owned entities managed to produce quality financial statements. According to the auditor-general, the financial health of the government continues to be alarming; irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure continues to increase,” said Malema.

“The Covid-19 corruption of PPE is also evidence that you cannot deal with corruption. According to the auditor-general’s Covid-19 special report there is widespread corruption, fraud and abuse of power in your government, sponsored and monitored by people including in your Cabinet.”

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had been speaking with a forked tongue when he announced some of his plans, including economic reforms, but failed to implement them.

He said the country was in crisis because there had been a lack of decisive leadership by the president. In the past three years he had not been able to act, but was hamstrung by infighting in his party.

“The entire speech was full of massive contradictions between noble-sounding pledges and the reality

of the ANC government’s actions,” Steenhuisen said. “The president repeatedly spoke of reforms, but what is clear from his actions – or rather, his inactions – is that he means for things to stay exactly the same.

“If he couldn’t get his party to back his Finance minister’s reform plan last year without first neutralising every critical aspect of it, he has no chance of driving a meaningful reform plan this year. But at least it sounded good in the speech.”

Political Bureau

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