'President Gupta' rants at empty chamber

02 June 2017 - 08:22 By Babalo Ndenze
Opposition parties boycotted President Jacob Zuma's response to his budget debate in the National Assembly on 1 June 2017.
Opposition parties boycotted President Jacob Zuma's response to his budget debate in the National Assembly on 1 June 2017.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

President Jacob Zuma has dismissed suggestions that South Africa is headed in the wrong direction and is degenerating into being a "failed state".

A relaxed and buoyant Zuma instead accused opposition MPs of being "drugged" by negative propaganda and neglecting their parliamentary duties.

Zuma was closing the debate on his budget vote, which began on Wednesday.

Opposition MPs called him "President Gupta".

Zuma dismissed allegations that the Gupta family had captured the state as nothing but "allegations and rumours".

"Honourable Motau, South Africa is not on the road to being a failed state. Unless you are living in another country, a South Africa we don't know.

"You need to free yourself from your party's propaganda and honestly track the progress that South Africa is making. You will feel proud to have been a leader during this period in our democratic transition," said Zuma.

He was directing his comment at DA MP Sejamotho Motau. He said things would be better for Motau, who was not present in the chamber, if he left the "propaganda world and came to a truthful world".

Zuma was addressing a half-empty National Assembly chamber. Opposition parties the DA, EFF, COPE and the UDM boycotted the session.

Only smaller parties, such as the National Freedom Party, IFP, Freedom Front Plus and the African Independence Congress attended.

Zuma slammed the parties for snubbing his debate, accusing them of dereliction of duty.

"This is part of the problem. You have people who are elected by the people to be in parliament, debate, make laws, but who decide not to come to parliament. They are here to say whatever they want. They don't even want to hear the response. That tells you that, whatever you say, they are not listening. They are hooked and trapped by their own propaganda world which they believe exists. Even in the debate they can't argue. All they do is to just hurl insults."

Zuma said the opposition MPs were drugged by their propaganda. "May God bless them."

Zuma said state capture was "a big thing" that needed to be dealt with through an inquiry.

"It's not a small thing. Now all of us agree we need to do it. We can't pick and choose. We must do it and that is going to help us because it's going to stop us depending on rumours and allegations. We must depend on facts," said Zuma. - TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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