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Sona debate | From Malema to Steenhuisen - five politicians respond to Ramaphosa

19 February 2020 - 11:31 By Cebelihle Bhengu
EFF leader Julius Malema is among MPs who weighed in on President Cyril Ramaphosa's Sona address, during the debate on Tuesday.
EFF leader Julius Malema is among MPs who weighed in on President Cyril Ramaphosa's Sona address, during the debate on Tuesday.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

MPs engaged in a heated debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona) on Tuesday.

During his address last week, Ramaphosa outlined government's plans to create jobs, boost struggling state-owned companies and stimulate the economy.

Here are five responses to Ramaphosa's Sona:

John Steenhuisen - DA

Steenhuisen accused Ramaphosa of dragging his feet instead of dealing decisively with corruption and state capture. 

Taking jabs at Ramaphosa's campaign slogan, “new dawn,” Steenhuisen said the president has delivered the opposite of this, the “new despair”.

“While you were telling us on Thursday night how you’ve fought back against corruption, you had people like [corruption-accused former eThekwini mayor] Zandile Gumede with you in the house. The beneficiaries of state capture — some of them chairs of portfolio committees — sat in these very benches.”

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Kenneth Meshoe - ACDP

Meshoe supported the president's resolution on energy procurement from independent power producers. He also encouraged Ramaphosa and South Africans to pray for the challenges that continue to confront SA.

“We know that Eskom is one of the main contributors of our poor economic growth, as load-shedding continues to disrupt the economy. That is why the ACDP welcomes the president's announcement that municipalities in good standing will procure energy directly from independent power producers.”

Bantu Holomisa - UDM

The leader of the United Democratic Front slammed the ANC for abandoning its founding values, which included putting the people first. He said the money lost to corruption and looting through the VBS and Bosasa scandals could have been used for  service delivery and moving closer to equality.

“It is difficult to explain to people that the same leadership which liberated them are now embroiled in looting of state resources. The noble intentions that were pronounced in 1994 have been hijacked by thugs, money that could have been used to alleviate the backlog of the past has been stolen.”

Mosioua Lekota - COPE 

Lekota said the government needed to equip locals with agricultural skills so they would be able to work the land. He touched on young and skilled South Africans who leave the country to seek better opportunities abroad because of uncertainty.

“When we lost our land, we lost the know-how to work the land,” he said, before tackling emigration.

“A lot of people who are trained in civil engineering etc have now started leaving because they feel uncertain about what will happen to them. We have a duty to encourage them to come back so we can rebuild.”

Julius Malema - EFF 

Malema said Ramaphosa was no different from former president Jacob Zuma, as he had failed to deliver on his promises since becoming president in 2018. He accused him of protecting the corrupt and of avoiding accountability.

Malema said the president's Sona failed to give a clear plan on how he aims to tackle unemployment and uplift the economy.

“You delivered your first Sona in February 2018. In 2019, we told you your proposals were dangerous, that you have abandoned politics for profit and greed. If you want to be friends with everyone, you will not address unemployment and few whites will continue to live in opulence in the face of unimaginable poverty.”

Day one of parliament's debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona) address last week took place on February 18 2020. Opposition leaders Julius Malema, John Steenhuisen and Pieter Groenewald led the debate, expressing their unhappiness with Ramaphosa's address.