Zuma, visibly displayed a lack of leadership credibility during the South African State of the Nation address (SONA) in parliament. Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, appeared to find the commotion and disruptions during the SONA presentation amusing and made no attempt to bring order into the house.
A few moments before Zuma arrived at Parliament, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) began chanting, “Bring back the signal” when it was discovered that all cell phone signals were blocked inside the building. Members of other opposition parties and journalists soon joined in. Leaders of opposition parties took this opportunity to ask the speaker of the house, Baleka Mbete, to switch the signal back on and stated that whoever blocked the signal was in direct breach of Section 32, of the Constitution and access to information. Mbete appeared poker-faced and said the secretary would investigate. The opposition called for the SONA speech to be delayed until the signals were switch back on.
It was evident that the EFF would continue to disrupt the procedure until the signal was returned. During the interruption, an obviously visible note was passed from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to David Mahlobo, State Security Minister and soon after, Mbete announced the signal was unscrambled.
Zuma began his anticipated speech. Making no reference to the first disruption of the night. Grinning broadly, Zuma began reading a poorly prepared report, welcoming members and guests. Members of the EFF wasted no time and soon began to toss questions toward Zuma regarding the money spent on the Nkandla homestead. Zuma ignored the issues and tried to continue talking. At that point, Mbete intervened and told the EFF member it was not a question and answer session. The intervention did not help, and EFF members continued to ask the same question.
The EFF had no intention of heeding Mbete’s orders and continued to raise questions aimed at Zuma. A scramble broke out, and a conspicuously exasperated Mbete called for security forces to have the members of the EFF party removed. The outburst was hilarious and exceptionally undemocratic behavior from leaders of South Africa.
With the EFF removed from parliament, the official party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane asked the speaker of the house, if the police were called in to remove members of the EFF. Mbete appeared to be quoting from a prepared note evidently displayed loyalty toward the President and then to Parliament, did not give a direct answer.
Speaker of the House, Mbete could not give a straight answer to questions put by Maimane, regarding the presence of the police in parliament. Unconstitutional and a worrying factor that the ANC display a deliberate defiance of the constitution. Maimane was the champion of freedom, democracy and the constitution and determined to uphold the values of every South African citizen. The DA, do not agree with the storm caused by EFF members do object profusely of having the police in the chambers, walked out of the SONA speech in protest of this unconstitutional action by the governing party, the ANC.
Quietness and half a house to entertain, Zuma began the speech for the benefit of the ANC. Zuma read the speech that appeared to be written by a grade eight school pupil. Zuma remained emotionless as though reading a Sunday sermon, and displaying no reaction to the recent chaos, the president said there was a good story to tell. There was no drastic reality of any positive change in South Africa; the entire speech was based on solutions to pressing problems that the ANC created during the 20-year term of rule. The grinning president appeared unmoved by the commotion and could not string a few words together for the sake of clarity regarding the chaos.
It is understandable that Zuma could not comment as there was no script for Zuma to recite from regarding the scrambled signal and the EFF outburst. The non-reaction to disparity and the rattling off of a spin speech sent a strong message that Zuma undoubtedly lacks leadership credibility.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
Photo by GovernmentZA – License