'The intensity of insults does not raise the quality of debate': Thuli Madonsela

17 February 2021 - 14:00 By cebelihle bhengu
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela. File photo.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela weighed in on the Sona debate on Tuesday,  saying the intensity of insults does not improve the quality of debate.

Madonsela quoted a member of her organisation, the Thuli Madonsela (Thuma) Foundation, about politicians who resort to insults when debating matters of national importance in parliament.

Members of the ANC and the opposition dissected President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address, which he delivered on Thursday last week, but what quickly caught the attention of many was the hurling of insults and jabs.

Among these was EFF leader Julius Malema, who accused Ramaphosa of advancing the agenda of the “white capitalist establishment” at the expense of black South Africans. He repeatedly called the president incapable and unreliable.

“The only thing your administration is competent at is the protection and benefit of the white capitalist establishment. This is evidently payback for the fact that white people even under apartheid protected and promoted you,” said Malema.

Madonsela mentioned no names, but many speculated that she was referring to the firebrand EFF leader.

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and deputy minister of higher education Buti Manamela hit back at Malema.

Ntshavheni called Malema “an empty vessel" making the loudest noise, while Manamela said the leader of the red berets has no backbone. He called him out for changing political allegiances to suit his ever-changing narratives.

“His transition from 'kill for Zuma' to 'kill Zuma', and then to move towards 'killing time and have tea with Zuma', is nothing but a reflection of someone who is willing to change their ethics, morals, politics and allegiances more often than they would change their red overalls,” said Manamela.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had no sense of direction and that his administration is stagnant.

Calling on the president to use the help of the opposition and that of ANC members who are willing to serve, he said: “Nowhere man, don't worry. Take your time, don't hurry. Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand,” he said, quoting the lyrics of the famous song by The Beatles.

Ramaphosa will respond to the debate on Thursday.