President Jacob Zuma has accused opposition parties of relying on “fictitious books” with no tested facts to argue in Parliament. File picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

Parliament - President Jacob Zuma has fired a broadside at opposition parties and accused them of relying on “fictitious books” with no tested facts to argue in Parliament.

This was in reference to veteran journalist Jacques Pauw’s book “The President’s Keepers” and another journalist Redi Tlhabi’s book titled “Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.”

Zuma was replying to the debate on his annual address in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday when he attacked the opposition.

Opposition MPs had waved the two books in the Chamber and accused Zuma of destroying the country, and not being able to lead.

But Zuma said he would not entertain books, but will stick to facts.

He described the books as novels with no substantive facts.

“My understanding is that our Parliament is an area in which we discuss matters of the country. It is a place where opposition parties present their alternative plans so that they will persuade voters,” said Zuma.

He said instead of doing this they were busy discussing him. They have been doing this over the last three years.

“They now have a new tendency of carrying books written by people who are speculating and rumours and they are not tested facts,” said Zuma.

“The country is facing big challenges. What do you do with such opposition parties. Their focus is not to learn. Their focus is something else, they have all the books you can think of,” he said. 

He said when opposition parties stand up in Parliament they don’t talk about their past.

He called on the DA to talk about its leaders in the past. In fact, the party should apologise about what happened in the past, said Zuma. 

Zuma said the ANC would retain power because it addressed issues raised by the people. In his main speech he listed the achievements of the ANC government in bringing water and sanitation to millions of people.

In his reply he said the opposition was obsessed with books that would not take the country forward. 

Pauw’s book has sparked a fight between him with the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Service.

They have attempted to block the printing of more copies for the book. The book has generated huge interest with the first 20 000 copies sold out in days.

The publisher said it would print more copies and they will not back down from threats from SSA.

Zuma did not mention Pauw or Tlhabi by name in the NCOP on Thursday, but described the books as novels.

He said opposition parties were obsessed with bringing these books to Parliament.

Political Bureau