Showdown looms as EFF threatens to disrupt #SONA2019
Politics / 3 February 2019, 12:01pm / Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
Parliament - A showdown is expected in Parliament when President Cyril Ramaphosa faces the country, with the EFF threatening to disrupt his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
Other parties want Ramaphosa to table concrete proposals to deal with corruption after explosive evidence in the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and to fix the criminal justice system.
Parliament, in the past, has seen scenes of violence, and at one point opposition parties went to the high court to prevent the deployment of the army.
A few years ago, Parliament and state security agencies were criticised for using a signal jammer in the House of Assembly. The then security minister David Mahlobo gave an assurance that this would not happen for the address.
Speaker Baleka Mbete and the National Council of Provinces’ Thandi Modise have promised there would not be extra security measures to deal with any disruption of Parliament.
Ramaphosa has been under pressure in recent weeks to come clean on his involvement with facilities company Bosasa, with opposition parties saying they hoped his address would clear up matters. It is understood that the president has met Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on the issue of Bosasa.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said yesterday it would not join those who wanted to disrupt the address. He said the parties should allow Ramaphosa to deliver his speech and take it from there.
The EFF has threatened to turn the address into a question-and-answer session if Ramaphosa does not come clean on Bosasa.
Maimane said the DA wanted to see how Ramaphosa tackled the issues of unemployment, economic growth and corruption. He said Ramaphosa needed to lay out plans to cancel all Bosasa contracts with the government.
“We believe the address should proceed. We are not going to be among those who disrupt it. What is crucial is that this is for South Africans. We want a functioning Parliament so that the people can be held to account and criminals end up in jail,” said Maimane.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said his party did not expect tangible plans from Ramaphosa.
“This address is going to be a lame duck. Whatever the president says will be meant to convince the public that the government has done well, which is not the case,” said Singh.
He said Ramaphosa could not move on anything because of challenges in the ANC. “The president is constrained in his movements because of the challenges in his party,” said Singh.
He added that the health-care system was collapsing and nothing had been done about it.
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe expressed concern that there were many commissions of inquiry but no one was being arrested for corruption and for looting state resources.
He said the party wanted Ramaphosa to ensure the arrests of officials implicated. He said ministers implicated needed to be removed from the Cabinet.
“The looters must be punished and pay back every cent they have taken. We want heads to roll,” said Meshoe.
Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem, who testified at the Zondo commission this week on alleged corruption at Correctional Services, said they wanted Ramaphosa to deal with corruption.
He said corruption was endemic in the public sector and had to be rooted out.
Bloem said Ramaphosa should outline plans to strengthen the criminal justice system, adding that unemployment was another area of concern.
Maimane said four out 10 South Africans were jobless.
Meshoe said Ramaphosa had in the past promised the economy would grow and create jobs, but this had not happened. He said Ramaphosa was expected to repeat the pledge.
Economic growth has not reached 5% since 2008 and the National Treasury has identified some key state-owned enterprises as a risk to the economy.
Ramaphosa was expected to outline plans to improve them.