Suddenly relieved of the logistical nightmare which normally accompanies the state of the nation address, Capetonians on Wednesday weighed in on the public debate around the future of embattled President Jacob Zuma.
While African News Agency cannot repeat some of the expletives uttered by people asked about Zuma’s future, residents of the Mother City were keen on a new president – although many differed on who that should be, or how the current president’s exit should be managed.
Perhaps the most outspoken of the lot were the Adderley Street flower sellers, who complain annually about the impact the SONA has on pedestrian traffic and subsequently on business.
They’ve seen many a SONA pre and post-democracy and yearn for a president who will stop and smell the flowers.
“Zuma must go. He has to go whether he resigns or is fired. Our next president must be a man with morals, with integrity,” said Edmund Joseph, 56, who has been selling flowers since his teens.
“The government must start thinking about us, not themselves.”
Another flower seller, who only identified herself as Sandra, said as far as she’s concerned “anybody but Zuma” should lead the country.
“He must just get up from that seat. Mbeki got out of the seat, why can’t he?” asked Sandra, referring to former president Thabo Mbeki’s resignation after the ruling African National Congress recalled him in 2008.
Many other vendors said they were more concerned about the water shortage in Cape Town and wanted nothing to do with politics.
Simba Lumbe, a city office worker, said the current political climate was not good for the country.
“Uncertainty has got to be the worst kind of enemy you can have against investor, both local and international. I think that the rate we’re going, we’re going to create a constitutional crisis if something proactive doesn’t happen soon,” he said.
Lumbe said the better scenario would be Zuma stepping down voluntarily, and if this does not happen, the ruling party must handle the situation carefully.
“I think due process does need to be followed in the interests of fairness and securing the country’s future,” he said, adding that whoever followed in Zuma’s footsteps should be someone with integrity.
Nonhlanhla Mntoninzi agreed, adding that the ANC needed to deliver on its promise of unity.
“They did promise unity after the December elective conference, and somehow it’s just not happening. I think that Zuma should do the right thing and voluntarily step down and let the remaining leadership of the ANC take the necessary steps forward,” she said.
For Mntoninzi, Zuma’s successor should be on the side of the ordinary South African – someone who does not neglect the “true needs” of citizens.
“For me personally, I want someone who is not selfish… who thinks about the ordinary South African who is still struggling with poverty and unemployment.”
Malibongwe Kula, 25, from Knysna, said he while he would like to see Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa succeed Zuma, he was a bit skeptical.
“Everything about Zuma is just wrong. What good has he done, especially with all these scandals that keep popping up.
“The rand is looking up now, so I like Cyril. But under him the gap between the rich and poor may increase. It’s a win-lose, but I hope he’s gonna treat the economy like a business,like what Thabo Mbeki did,” said Kula.