The race to come out on top at the polls later this year has begun in earnest with political parties using today’s state of the nation debate to draw blood from their rivals.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week during his second state of the nation address that he intended for elections to take place on May 8.
MPs interrogated Ramaphosa’s commitments on land education and Eskom.
The first speaker of the day, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, did not hold back, labelling the DA as racist and accusing the Economic Freedom Fighters of being a two-man dictatorship.
“The irony of a party which refers to itself as the Democratic Alliance repeatedly silencing vocal black women is indicative of their true nature, which is a white-male-dominated party only concerned with protecting and entrenching white privilege. The DA fronts black faces to pursue the agenda of the white privileged minority to the detriment of the black majority,” Mthembu said.
“The common denominator between the DA and their alliance partner, the EFF, is that they are both male-dominated. The EFF is a two-man dictatorship where you are fired without due process for merely disagreeing with the dictatorship of the two. In fact, since 2014, the EFF has gotten rid of 19 members of Parliament and a countless number of councillors.”
The leader of the opposition, Mmusi Maimane, took his chance to take shots at Ramaphosa, saying that his words were empty as he was not in charge of his party.
“It is the ANC of [Supra] Mahumapelo, [David] Mabuza, [Ace] Magashule and Jacob Zuma. We judge a man by the company he keeps,” Maimane said.
The DA leader also took Ramaphosa to task over his comment that he was “shocked and angry” at the implementation of stage 4 loadshedding last night.
“How can you be shocked when you watched Eskom collapse? The president can’t be shocked. He told us to watch this space [in his state of the nation address].”
Predictably EFF leader Julius Malema spared no salvos when he made his contribution to the debate, making it clear that his party was opposed to Ramaphosa’s plans to unbundle ailing state-owned enterprise Eskom.
The EFF leader said that the unbundling would serve Ramaphosa’s brother in law, billionaire Patrice Motsepe, and Ramaphosa himself saying: “Because you are still a businessman you have just taken leave to come and irritate us here.”
Malema also advised Ramaphosa to do away with deputy ministers, saying that most of them were unknown to the general public.
He added that people who have served since the time of Nelson Mandela should also step aside and allow for “young blood” to take over in government.
Parliament has set aside two days for the debate of the state of the nation address this week – Tuesday and Wednesday.
This will be followed by the president’s response before a joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces on Thursday.