Most political parties in Parliament have lauded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address saying it has given South Africans renewed hope.
However, they were quick to warn Ramaphosa that his statement of intent will ring hollow if he does not crackdown on corruption and reduce the bloated Cabinet he has inherited from former President Jacob Zuma.
African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu was the first to take to the podium.
Mthembu says Parliament should never be found wanting again by the Constitutional Court. He has called for ethical leadership that respects the rule of law.
“The leadership we are calling for must be one of a principled nature across political parties where ethics and integrity are the dominant factors and not narrow party politics. As Parliament, we must not and cannot ever be found on the side of having done wrong under our watch. We carry the hopes of people who elected us. We cannot fail them.”
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has reaffirmed his party’s support for the newly-elected President and took a jab at Zuma.
“We are presented with a unique window of opportunity. We have removed a corrupt broken president from office and our task now is to fix the broken country he has left behind. President Ramaphosa has promised the people of SA a new dawn. I want to pledge my support and our party towards the realisation of this goal.”
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has also followed suit and reassured Ramaphosa of his party support.
“We are willing to give you a chance as the President of SA. We only give you a chance because you have not been found guilty of being a constitutional delinquent, because we don’t entertain delinquencies. We deal with delinquents decisively like we did before. It is very easy for a country to degenerate if you allow individuals to become constitutional delinquents.”
However, other opposition parties called on President Ramaphosa to deal with the issue of racism.
“This calls for the need to deal with pockets and remnants of racism that show their ugly heads in certain quarters of our country. We must collectively cultivate the spirit of social cohesion in our republic,” says National Freedom Party Chief Whip Nhlanhlakayise Khubisa.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa wants Ramaphosa to crack down on corruption and sack Ministers implicated in State Capture.
“Mr President, there must be consequences for those who have been found guilty of corruption. State Capture Inquiry must be beefed up with the inclusion of forensic audit experts. And even the Hawks, the Justice Department must be directed to make special provision for prosecuting capacity and establishment of dedicated courts to expedite justice as was done in 2010 during the World Cup.”
The Freedom Front Plus has also promised to cooperate with President Ramaphosa to build South Africa.
“I want to say I am an Afrikaner and a son of the soil of Africa. Afrikaaners and white people want to contribute to a better future for all in South Africa. We can help to build a better South Africa, but then we need to have mutual respect for each other,” says party leader Pieter Groenewald.
However, it was the emotive issue of expropriation of land without compensation which seemed to tear parties apart along ideological lines.
Maimane argued that this issue is incompatible with a growing economy.
“Expropriation of land without compensation is incompatible with a growing flourishing economy. You can have one or the other, but you can’t have both. In fact, this is what our neighbours in Zimbabwe started to pursue to such disastrous effect in the past.”
Malema who has been championing expropriation of land without compensation warned the DA that if they don’t change their stance on the issue, they risk losing the metros they co-govern with the help of the EFF.
“I want to warn you, the leader of the opposition, that your stay in the metros is going to depend on your attitude on the expropriation of land without compensation. And I want to warn you about that because that’s a fundamental issue that is going to make us fight with you. Because anyone who opposes expropriation of land without compensation is the enemy of our people and such a person will be dealt with.”
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has also cautioned against the use of expropriation of land of black people under the Ingonyama Trust.
“Does the ruling party sincerely believe that bureaucracy in fancy offices can administer traditional land better than those who have been the custodian of our people’s lives, dignity and well-being since time immemorial. Surely, the policy of land expropriation without compensation should not be used against the poorest of the poor?”
In another development, Economic Development Minister Ibrahim Patel has announced during the debate that Old Mutual is considering coming back to the country and have its headquarters in Johannesburg.
“The competition authority has approved a transaction that will see Old Mutual reversing its decision of 20 years ago to make London its global headquarters and subject to shareholder approval come back home.”
Click below to watch the SONA debate: