‘Will it be people of SA or the ANC?’ — Steenhuisen takes swipe at Ramaphosa

16 February 2021 - 16:19
DA leader John Steenhuisen used Jacob Zuma’s defiance to appear before the state capture inquiry as an illustration of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lack of decisive action.
DA leader John Steenhuisen used Jacob Zuma’s defiance to appear before the state capture inquiry as an illustration of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lack of decisive action.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

DA leader John Steenhuisen has challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide bold leadership and choose between his political party, the ANC, or the people of SA.  

Speaking during the state of the nation address debate on Tuesday, Steenhuisen criticised Ramaphosa’s speech last week, saying it was more or less a repeat of those made in 2020, 2019 and 2018.

The ruling party has been marred by allegations of corruption, something which Ramaphosa admitted was a great challenge, although he said some progress was being made.

Steenhuisen said there had been little or no action taken against individuals, something the president had not boldly acted upon.

He used former president Jacob Zuma’s defiance to appear before the state capture inquiry as an illustration of Ramaphosa’s lack of decisive action. This as the ANC’s general-secretary Ace Magashule rallied behind Zuma, saying he had done nothing wrong.

Steenhuisen said: “You couldn’t bring yourself to stand up for our constitution and the rule of law when our former president as well as your party’s current secretary-general and his deputy openly defied and mocked these sacred foundations of our democracy.

“Your response was that we should all give him [Zuma] time and space to think things over. Your silence yesterday when he stuck to his word and snubbed the commission spoke volumes. None of that sounds like someone who has decided to put country before party.”

Ramaphosa’s address was premised on four key priorities for the year. These were accelerating economic growth, defeating Covid-19, implementing economic reforms and fighting corruption.

“We’re in a desperate situation on multiple fronts. We’ve never been in more urgent need of bold leadership that unashamedly puts the country and its people first. We cannot afford anything less than that. You have to give the country some kind of sign you’re that man because at the moment it doesn’t look like you are,” said Steenhuisen.  

During his address Ramaphosa made reference to a Maya Angelou quote, urging South Africans to remain courageous and resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Steenhuisen told Ramaphosa to instead use the quote himself.

“The time has come for you to find your courage and make that decision: SA or the ANC? Support the agenda for reform and growth when we table our bills here in parliament, and history will remember you as the president who stood up for his country, even though it was hard.”


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