Jacob Zuma to respond to opposition attacks

2014-02-20 09:52

President Jacob Zuma is expected to respond to attacks against him by opposition parties and to praises for his and the ANC’s policies, largely by ministers.

Zuma will be stepping up to the podium in the National Assembly at 2pm today after two days of debate on his state of the nation address delivered a week ago.

Attacks on Zuma were mainly aimed at the performance of his government, its policies and the excessive spending – more than R200 million – on the security upgrades at his home in Nkandla.

Zuma sat through yesterday afternoon’s four-hour debate looking markedly more tired than the previous day’s debate, which lasted about the same time.

He did manage a smile when a feisty Public Service Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, defended him against the opposition’s “scandalous claims” that the ANC was worse off under him than under former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.

She said even in Mandela’s time, the DA opposed the ANC, which is why he called them a “Mickey Mouse party”.

She said even that was a generous nickname because the party was really a “damp squib”.

Zuma also managed a smile when Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, sweeping the debate right at the end, used colourful language to say that the DA used Twitter to make “false claims” about service delivery.

Zuma had “addressed in brutal detail the strides made by government”, he said.

DA finance spokesperson Tim Harris said the ANC was wrong to benchmark the gains made in the past 20 years against apartheid, which was “a racist, illegitimate regime”.

He drew attention to Zuma’s record, which he said was poor because unemployment increased from 30% to 34% and economic growth was down from 4.2% under Mbeki to 2.8%.

The DA’s police spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said policing under Zuma had declined and criticised appointments like Bheki Cele and Riah Phiyega as police commissioners.

After her speech, ANC MP Johnny de Lange objected to opposition parties calling the president only by his surname instead of saying “President Zuma”.

He said it was disrespectful because even members of Parliament addressed one another as “the honourable”.

Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti thanked De Lange for reprimanding the opposition and said he felt the same. “People are talking down on the president,” he said.

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