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Thu May 25 20:10:56 SAST 2017


Bianca Capazorio | 2016-02-17 00:38:52.0

President Jacob Zuma was savaged in parliament yesterday, with opposition MPs labelling him "illegitimate" and not honourable enough to lead the country.

They also attacked the ANC for its failure to remove Zuma from office.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said ANC members in parliament were just "instruments" to be used.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his EFF counterpart, Julius Malema, both directed intensely personal remarks at the president.

Malema, who later led his MPs in a walkout, said Zuma's presidency had been characterised by "umshini wam', Nkandla and Guptas".

Yesterday's debate on the State of the Nation speech saw some of the fiercest exchanges yet seen in the House of Assembly.

First on the attack was Maimane, who invoked the imaginary "Planet Zuma" to highlight his point that the president was living in a different world from the majority of South Africans.

Planet Zuma was a place to which the president retreated while police rolled out barbed wire in the streets and set off stun grenades, he said.

On this fictitious planet "all the continents fit into Africa" and a swimming pool could be a fire pool.

Looking at Zuma, Maimane asked: "Mr President, everyone has a conscience. How do you live with yours?"

The DA leader said Zuma had avoided all responsibility for taxpayers' money being spent on his Nkandla home until last week.

Zuma has for the past two years questioned the validity of recommendations in the public protector's report, which found that he had unduly benefited from some of the "security upgrades" to his Nkandla residence.

"You were on trial for subverting our constitution, corrupting our parliament, undermining the office of the public protector and violating your own oath of office.

"After all those years of stalling, lying, ducking and diving, it took the court just hours to unravel your web of defiance and deceit," Maimane asserted.

"Through a string of extraordinary concessions in court, your legal team effectively relegated your caucus to its current position: under the proverbial bus."

Zuma sat stony-faced through it all, occasionally smiling as speaker after speaker tore into his leadership record.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies argued that there was a lot to be proud of in South Africa --even in an economy that had been hard-hit by global woes.

Malema started his speech by stating he would not take part in a debate with an "illegitimate" president before covering the issues facing the poor - saying poor people lived and died "like pigs".

Malema apologised to former president Thabo Mbeki, saying he had personally led the charge against him after a meeting with Zuma in which Zuma indicated he did not want to work with Mbeki.

He also apologised to former president Nelson Mandela, saying South Africa had become a "junk country".

He left the podium and the house, declaring he would not participate further and, looking at Zuma, said: "You are not a legitimate president ... bye-bye."

Earlier, the EFF leader said South Africa had been relegated to junk status due to the actions of one man "who blames everything on the global economy".

"South Africa, we stand here bound by the constitution, to call for the removal of Zuma as president of South Africa. He caused damage. Zuma is a morally compromised human being.

"In our previous life, we accepted lies about you, Mr Zuma," Malema added.

Malema then led his red-overalled MPs in a walkout.

Speaker Baleka Mbete, however, ruled Malema had knowingly broken the rules, should have brought a substantive motion and would have his speech expunged from Hansard.

Challenged by members of COPE on what rule she had used, she replied she would answer later.

Deputy Mining Minister Godfrey Olifant, meanwhile, said that Malema was a "coward" for not staying to debate and said he had sold out Mandela in London.

Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu attacked the opposition, saying they brought nothing to the table and that all they were good at was discussing individuals and not ideas.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa condemned the conduct of some of the opposition MPs, saying it was "a flagrant abuse of parliamentary rules and our democracy".


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