President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) came under fierce criticism from opposition parties at the two-day Joint SONA Debate which started on Monday afternoon.
His speech was put under the spotlight for his stance on job creation, State-own Entities, the appointment of a Chief Justice and the high unemployment faced by Black women in South Africa.
Ramaphosa’s speech was also defended by those in the African National Congress (ANC).
The President drew mixed reaction when he told the nation last week that job creation was the responsibility of the private sector.
He said government’s role was to provide the conditions for business to grow and generate jobs.
During the debate the Democratic Alliance (DA) also announced that it will table a no-confident motion in the entire Cabinet.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Leader Julius Malema has criticised Ramaphosa for not giving Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa full responsibility to run the Intelligence Portfolio as a young person.
SONA Debate I EFF leader Julius Malema responds to SONA 2022:
Ramaphosa has centralised State Security to be located in his Presidency.
Malema says criminals are now running the country and intimidating South Africans openly in society.
“Now, there are thugs today going around they call themselves Operation Dudula, who are harassing innocent people demanding proof of citizenship, nothing is happening to them. These armed individuals are Operating Free because they know this country is run by cowards. They call themselves Operation Dudula. They put guns, the display guns openly on the streets of South Africa in front of the police, yet police do not act against those thugs that intimidate against our people.”
— Parliament of RSA (@ParliamentofRSA) February 14, 2022
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says Ramaphosa’s announcement on cutting the red tape to accelerate economic growth is nothing new.
He says the President already has said this before.
“You said you are going to establish a task team to break the red tape. Honourable Presiden, in 2020, you already said that. In fact, you said with the flick of the finger you can register your company. And I can assure you with pandemic in 2020, many fingers had flicked to register their companies to get hold of the money with Black Economic Empowerment and to steal the money meant for the people.”
Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Sylvia Lucas says Ramaphosa’s frank assessment on the South African economy should be welcomed.
“At the centre of our developmental trajectory should be our collective resolve to eradicate poverty, hunger, joblessness and socio-economic exclusion. Furthermore, in localising this implementation of this plan, the district development model must be placed at the centre of our implementation process. This will ensure that every province, district and locality adequately benefit from these economic opportunities that must emerge from this plan.”
The African Transformation Movement Leader Vuyo Zungula says the President is destroying State-owned Entities to build and accumulate wealth once he goes back to business when he is no longer President.
Zungula also accused his government of being captured by Non-Governmental Organisations when taking decisions.
He made specific reference to the position of Chief Justice of South Africa.
“You deliberately destroy SoEs so you can sell them to your friends at a very cheap price. In fact, you are busy building your own private business empire, because after you are done with this side gig of yours of being President of the country, you’ll go back to business and enjoy the wealth you have accumulated whilst being the President. You say you are a governing party kodwa niphetwe (you are captured). NGOs are governing you. Even with the appointment of the Chief Justice, you want to ignore the recommendation of the Political Parties and the JSC and appoint a Hellen Suzman (Foundation) and Freedom Under Law-preferred candidate.”
ANC Member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature and NCOP Delegate, Cameron Dugmore says South Africans are yearning for a united force in political leaders to tackle the challenges facing society.
When he defended the President’s address, he called on MPs and MPLs to unite in finding solutions.
“I don’t think any of us in this house are enemies. We might not be friends ,but we are South Africans. We are South Africans that need to find solutions to the challenge and I think that is what the president is asking of us. We need to realise that cooperative governance and united action are critical. The vast majority of South Africans want their leaders to find solutions together. They yearn for the bickering and the blame game to stop. They want accountability and humility from all of use. They want to see practical progress in growing and transforming our economy. They want security of tenure, land restitution and land redistribution. All of our people need and want jobs they want an end to crime.”
DA Leader John Steenhuisen says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stance on the economy is not coming from the DA’s manifesto but from its track record where it is governing.
Steenhuisen reiterated that the President’s speech comes directly from the DA’s playbook.
“None of the things you appropriated from the DA came for a wish list. They are things we already do where we are in government. And so, you did not borrow from the DA’s manifesto. You took directly from the DA’s track record and that’s a good thing and it’s also a very important distinction to make one try to understand why this economy under your government remains in quick sand.”
But Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele told Steenhuisen that there is a difference between facts and ideas and came to the defence of the President’s speech.
“Mr President your comprehensive and responsive address was a rallying call to all people of South Africa to join hands in building a life for all. By calling for a social compact to implement South Africa’s transformation agenda, you are confirming our constitutional directive that national unity in pursuit of human prosperity is a timeless phenomenon. You are letting our minds to two fundamental revolutionary goals – that correcting the ills of the past and building a new South Africa, which is inclusive purely on the basis of humanity, are two sites of the same coin which is nation building.”
Debate on SONA 2022:
The debate will continue on Tuesday afternoon and Ramaphosa will reply to the two-day debate on Wednesday.
SONA Debate I MPs respond to Ramaphosa’s SONA: Sandile Swana