PARLIAMENT, February 9 (ANA) – What a difference 10 minutes can make. Once Parliament had been cleared of his most vocal opponents, many of them by force, Jacob Zuma started a State of the Nation (Sona) speech that would have seemed fitting in the most sedate of countries.
His final Sona as leader of the ANC started very dramatically, with disruptions and delays on various points of order soon turning into threats and scuffles and finally ejections from Parliament.
Points of order made by various Economic Freedom Front MPs included the oft-repeated claims that Zuma had broken his oath of office. On this occasion the complaints were expanded to include accusations of skulduggery, including that members of the National Defence Force, who were present, had it in for the EFF MPs with plans using “biological weapons”and the less obviously dangerous cable ties.
The country held its collective breath as Zuma tried to push ahead with his speech while being shouted down. Parliament soon descended into chaos, which escalated until EFF MPs were violently ejected. Mmusi Maimane led his party out in protest afterwards.
As the opposition parties regrouped outside Parliament, some of them quite battered and bruised, Zuma started his speech by calling on some safe old favourites. This was safe ground indeed, it would be hard to upset many in South Africa by paying tribute to such heroes as Oliver Tambo and Miriam Makeba.
With the House quieter and more friendly, Zuma spent 30 minutes talking about how much had been achieved in the last few years, including “successfully avoiding a credit ratings downgrade”, which some will consider immature. One would be forgiven for thinking that all was well in South africa, and the economy on track to better days.
Zuma spent time laying out in some detail the aims of the government’s nine-point plan announced last year to ignite economic development. A veritable wishlist of what a development economist might propose as possible interventions to fix an ailing economy it was pretty low on detail of what had actually been achieved.
It was almost 9.30pm by the time Zuma threatened to step up a gear, saying he would look at priorities for the year ahead. Those who let their hopes be raised that the best was still to come were quickly left fearing the excitement for the night had passed.
– African News Agency (ANA)