President Jacob Zuma lives on his own planet in a galaxy, “far, far, away” from the people, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday.
He said that last week while razor wire was being put around Parliament ahead of President Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), and stun grenades were being used to disperse protesters, the president was “tucked safely away, somewhere on Planet Zuma”.
“Planet Zuma is a place in a parallel universe, far, far away from the lives of ordinary South Africans,” said Maimane.
On a roll, with people clapping hands, and whistles of approval from the opposition benches, Maimane said this was a planet where a president could replace an excellent finance minister with a backbencher nobody knew and where an international fugitive wanted for genocide was given refuge.
Protesting students were called a “third force” and charged with treason, and mineworkers were “massacred by police” without an apology or compensation for their familiess.
Maimane was speaking during the debate over Zuma’s address and was given the second longest time slot after the majority African National Congress.
During last Thursday’s speech, Maimane said the country learnt that on “Planet Zuma” all children had access to a quality education and that there was no jobs crisis – because Zuma never touched on this during his address.
Even his own Cabinet members winced as he laboured through his speech, said Maimane.”Madam Speaker, the president lived up to our expectations on Thursday.
>We expected to hear the empty words of a man out of touch with the people. And that is exactly what we got.”Maimane said they knew what to expect, but stayed till the end out of respect for the Constitution.
“But we did not come out of respect for Jacob Zuma,” he said to applause, while some ANC MPs started muttering and waving their hands dismissively.But not all poo-pooed him – many watched him carefully.
In a seat near Maimane, Zuma chewed on something, and slumped to the side in his seat.”Madam Speaker, Jacob Zuma is not an honourable man. Because, if he was an honourable man, he would do the honourable thing and resign.”
Speaker Baleka Mbete asked him not to use disrespectful language, but Maimane said it was difficult to do so following the advice his own counsel had given him in the past.
He said: “Planet Zuma’s gravitational pull is so strong that the entire ANC has been sucked into its orbit.”
“The party that was once the defender of freedom, has now become the defender of just one man.”
“Every member on this side knows the damage that this man is doing to this country and their party. But not one of you, not one of you, has the guts to speak up about what has happened.
“You should be ashamed,” he said. Maimane then touched on the recent Constitutional Court case where Zuma’s lawyer said he would finally follow Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendations that he pay back money owed for upgrades to his home at Nkandla.
“After all those years of stalling, lying, ducking and diving, it took the Court just hours to unravel your web of defiance and deceit,” he said.Mbete chided Maimane for touching on a court case that had not been pronounced on yet, but Maimane said whatever Zuma paid, would be nothing compared to what South Africans had already paid.
He listed the achievements of the DA-led government in the Western Cape and laid out some of the DA’s plans.To a standing ovation, he said: “We need a President who puts the people first, and himself last. You, sir, are not that President.”
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