Parliament – As the opposition criticised President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address in Parliament on Tuesday, ministers and other ANC speakers came to his defence and elaborated on the radical socio-economic transformation programme.
They vehemently denied that Zuma was afraid of the EFF and insisted that the ruling party was merely pushing the Freedom Charter.
Speaking during the first day debate on the address, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the emphasis was on ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans especially the previously disenfranchised.
“Radical socio-economic transformation is not political rhetoric but an important step to build a prosperous country. It builds on interventions aimed at transforming the economy in line with the Freedom Charter,” Radebe said.
He insisted that it was building on the prescripts of the Freedom Charter. But, the DA laughed off the policies, with leader Mmusi Maimane suggesting Zuma was afraid of the EFF, hence followed their policies.
“Are you afraid of EFF that you would follow their policies? You must, in fact, know these policies will lead us to a failed growth path like in Zimbabwe and Venezuela. They failed anywhere they had been tried,” Maimane said.
Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti disagreed with Maimane, also insisting that Zuma was not frightened of the EFF at all.
“What the member is comparing us to is anarchy. It is not revolution,” he said. “The president is not frightened of the EFF. He is carrying out the revolutionary task of economic transformation,” he added.
Nkwinti said there was a need to uproot the current system in the economy that favoured the minority at the expense of the black majority.
Zuma had in his address outlined a programme that ranged from accelerating transformation in land reform, mining and property industry, among others to benefit the black majority.
Radebe said the ANC was unapologetic about prioritising the black majority. “We must accelerate socio-economic transformation to ensure the beneficiation of blacks”, he said.
Radebe also insisted that the government put the needs of people at the apex of its agenda.
But, Maimane said Zuma’s address was delivered against the background of a “murderous” government that cut off thousands of families from their mentally ill patients, with 94 ultimately dying.
“From Marikana to Esidimeni this government has turned against the people of this country,” he said.
Maimane also said Speaker Baleka Mbete had refused a moment of silence in honour of the psychiatric patients who died. He said that had showed what the ANC government thought about the vulnerable.
“The only thing this party cares about is power, big projects like nuclear projects”
He charged that the address, marked by barricades and increased security, showed the ANC on the one side and the people on the other.