‘People swear at each other’ - Zuma takes aim at parliament

22 February 2021 - 07:30 By cebelihle bhengu
Former president Jacob Zuma says MPs don't raise critical points when debating in parliament but instead hurl insults at each other.
Former president Jacob Zuma says MPs don't raise critical points when debating in parliament but instead hurl insults at each other.
Image: GCIS

Former president Jacob Zuma hit out at parliament on Sunday, criticising its failure to address critical issues and offer South Africans hope and solutions.

He made these remarks during the ANC’s virtual umrhabulo session, under the theme “Social cohesion and the national question”. He was a keynote speaker and one of the panellists.  

He said parliamentary debates are less about asking key questions about how SA can achieve unity and nation-building as MPs often resort to insults.

“Part of the activities in parliament, the manner in which we interact, the manner in which we discuss the problems of the country as well as saying what are the solutions, should be the kind of discussion that is followed by many people in the country and see where this institution is helping us on nation-building and cohesion.

“Parliament, as an open and public institution, is not helping with this debate about cohesion and nation-building. At times people think it is very destructive because people swear at each other. It is not, in a sense, contributing to nation-building,” he said.

Zuma said differences must be raised in a respectful manner and voters could be stricter in ensuring leaders tackle pertinent issues in parliament.

“People should respect others, should be able to raise issues properly. But people think they are there to fight. The correction of that lies in the voters represented by them,” he said.

Jabs and insults were shared last week by some MPs who debated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address.

Unlike in previous years, there was no sea of red in the National Assembly as some EFF members joined the debate virtually.

This did not keep EFF leader Julius Malema from throwing shade at the ruling party and Ramaphosa, whom he repeatedly accused of being incompetent, unreliable and “lacking capacity to lead”.

He also said Ramaphosa was more interested in advancing the agenda of owners of “white capitalist establishment” over the needs of ordinary South Africans.

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni came to Ramaphosa’s defence and called Malema “an empty vessel" making the loudest noise. She questioned why Malema was invested in the ANC’s internal affairs.

She took aim at Malema, who had a meeting with Zuma at the former president’s Nkandla homestead two weeks ago.

“You said you’ll never support president Zuma but you’re the one who supported him. He is the former president of the ANC and of this country. We support him but the rule of law will apply with no fear, with no favour, even to you Malema,” she said, referring to Zuma’s defiance of the Constitutional Court order that he appear before the state capture inquiry.