Former president Jacob Zuma has accused Parliament of failure to promote social cohesion. He was speaking during the ANC’s virtually held Umrabulo Roundtable under the theme – Social Cohesion and National Question.

The discussion formed part of a series of dialogues the governing party is holding on its policy documents ahead of its National General Council (NGC), set to take place this year.

Zuma participated in a virtual Umrabulo session organised by ANC’s policy head, Jeff Radebe:

Zuma spoke frankly about how he saw Parliament and its members conducting their business. He says Parliament contributes to the lack of social cohesion and nation-building in the country.

Zuma was on the receiving end of heckling and disruptions in Parliament, mainly from the EFF, during the last years of his Presidency. He says many citizens do not understand the antagonistic style used by political parties.

“The ANC as the leader of society needs to reflect on this matter and ponder how we can build a society where leaders can disagree robustly without being disrespectful,” he says.

“Parliament as a very open and public institution is not helping to this debate that we are talking about…it’s not in a sense contributing to the nation-building. It is actually very…at times some people think it is very disruptive,” he adds.

On other issues,  Zuma called for a better approach to address xenophobia and all forms of intolerance. However, he cautioned against ignoring the concerns of South Africans on issues of migration and immigration. He says the governing party needs to find ways to ensure that South Africans don’t feel disadvantaged in their own country.

“How do we deal with those who enter the country illegally and how do we manage and prevent illegal migration? How do we ensure that South Africans don’t feel disadvantaged with regards to jobs, housing and basic services? How do we deal with the private sector or employers who appear to informally reserve certain jobs for foreign nationals?” he asked.

The former president’s participation in the virtual Umrabulo session precedes his appearance at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday, for alleged corruption related to the 1999 multi-billion-rand arms deal.