Corruption, land expropriation in the spotlight at SONA debate

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Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosioua Lekota has caused a stir in the National Assembly on the question of land expropriation without compensation. During the joint State of the Nation Address Debate, he questioned whether President Cyril Ramaphosa had sworn allegiance to another Constitution when he was sworn in as President by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng last week.

His question on land saw the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) jumping to the defence of expropriation without compensation. Lekota believes that President Ramaphosa’s announcement on land expropriation without compensation could be in conflict with his oath of office.

“You announced following the Chief Justice that you would obey observe and uphold the Constitution. The following day on Friday in the evening, you now announce in your speech that you would expropriate land without compensation. The question that confronts us is that is it this Constitution that you were swearing allegiance to. It says Section 25, it says no one may be deprived off their property. It also says that were expropriation happens, it must be with compensation. The question that therefore arises is whether you took your oath through this Constitution or to another Constitution.”

Rising on the point of order, EFF Member of Parliament Mbuyiseni Ndlozi clashed with Lekota for not supporting the expropriation of land without compensation. “What alternative do you have for us to have back the land? What did you go to Robben Island to do. What were you doing in Robben Island?

MPs also touched on the President’s commitment to fight corruption, improve the public service and to strengthen his cabinet.

“Honourable President good leaders surround themselves with other good leaders and other good people of honesty truthfulness and integrity. The people of South Africa are passionately and eagerly awaiting to see the president giving the country a new image of hope and prosperity. So far this has been successfully voiced in your words. We now need a good team around you, a team of men and women of integrity and selflessness in order for your SONA to put winds in motion and rescue South Africa. South Africa is blessed with such people of goodwill and integrity,” said Inkatha Freedom Party Member of Parliament in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Mtomuhle Khawula.

The African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe also spoke on the issues. “The ACDP calls on President Ramaphosa to show his intention to urgently root out corruption by starting with his Cabinet. On Wednesday the ACDP wants to see a new Minister of Finance giving the budget speech. We want to see captured Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are entangled in a web of corruption, investigated and arrested as soon as possible. Justice must be seen to be done and done without fear or favour.”

In thanking all the witnesses who blew the whistle in the Eskom state capture inquiry, the Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazonne also used the opportunity to praise Parliament’s evidence leader Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, saying he refused to be bribed to derail the inquiry.

“I particularly want to single out one unsung hero of this tale. A man of such virtue, such bravery, so proud of his country that when he was offered a bribe, and propositioned with money, the likes of which we could only dream of in the case of wining the lotto. He said no, I choose South Africa. I choose my country. To you Advocate Vanara I say thank you. May the Gods bless you and may our children learn how you helped safe South Africa from being sold off piece by piece. You are Sir are a hero.”

The National Freedom Party’s Achmed Shaik Emam wants the new president to look at all forms of corruption pointing a finger at the Democratic Alliance. “Now Mr President we talk about corruption and state capture. Yes indeed it is a serious problem and we are impressed that you want to  deal with this matter hands on. But Mr President let us not forget about the corruption on my left. Let us not forget about the state capture on my left. We have just heard about the water crisis that is created by them in order to give the business to Israel so that they can get R600-million for the election in 2019. Now Mr President the question I want to ask. Why is corruption such a serious challenge when it’s with the blacks and not a serious challenge with the colonialist and the whites?

The Pan Africanist Congress’ Luthando Mbinda says he is still not convinced that President Ramaphosa will be able to fight corruption properly under what he calls the current neo-colonial state controlled by imperialists. “When it came to corruption you came up guns blazing on Friday but proof of pudding is in the eating. As the PAC we wonder if you will be able to deal with corruption properly under the current system of neo-colonialism. This country is a neo-colonial state. It is controlled by the imperialists who determine who should be in charge of South Africa.”

Agang-SA Parliamentary leader Andries Tlouamma wants President Ramaphosa to use his presidency to also correct the wrongs of the Marikana tragedy. “Honourable President you have made mistakes like all of us. Your spirit and soul were nearly amputated while serving under President Jacob Zuma,- former president. Use your presidency to correct the wrongs of Marikana, while we accept the implementation of the minimum wage, you should have made pronouncements on banning of labour brokers and out-sourcing.”

United Democratic Movement MP in the NCOP, Lennox Graehler says the commitment to improve the public service can only be successful if it is professionalised and gets rid of cadre deployment. “Mr President we welcome your commitment to make Public Service Work. We therefore call on you to professionalise service delivery as a function of public service. They are employed to serve the people, not to be served by the people. You must as you have promised that public service is not a doubling site for unqualified, incompetent and lay people who are a product of your party’s deployment policy. This must come to an end now.”

The new President’s vision of uniting South Africans is something which is not enough for African People’s Convention Leader Themba Godi. “The notion of the rainbow nation is a total fallacy. We cannot accept the sugar coated pillow of continued white privilege and domination. We cannot live on feel good and baseless hope. Finally comrade president, Africans who are humiliated and undermined whose plight must be urgently addressed, home based caregivers, HIV councillors, pre-school teachers, EPWP workers, headmen and headwomen, secretaries to Amakhosi in KZN, workers on starvation wages, out sourced to labour brokers, mining communities, ex mineworkers, our people in the farms, hope and change must be measured on how the material conditions of the working poor has changed for the better.”

When she closed the debate, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor differed with Godi. “Honourable Godi, we must never tire of pursuing the vision of building a united South Africa. A people united in their diversity it’s a vision, a dream I think we should not give up on. It’s a task that our forebears have given to us.  And I really disagree with you that it is something that we would not achieve. Of course the most vulnerable and marginalised of our country must be attended to and provided with the appropriate support. But all South Africans should feel they belong.”

The debate ended just before 8 o’ clock on Monday night. President Ramaphosa is expected to reply to the Joint SONA Debate at 2 o’ clock on Tuesday.

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