SONA debate will be heated, confrontational and robust - expert

2016-02-16 14:04

Durban – Political analyst Daniel Silke said he expected Tuesday afternoon's State of the Nation Address debate to be robust, confrontational and heated.  

President Jacob Zuma was interrupted several times during his address last Thursday night. The Economic Freedom Fighters repeatedly questioned him about the weakening economy and his sacking of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

There was a surprise interruption by Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota who stood up and told the president that he was "not honourable".

Cope walked out of Parliament while the EFF was kicked out by Speaker Baleka Mbete.

During last year's SONA debate, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane called Zuma a broken man, presiding over a broken society.

"You are willing to break every democratic institution to try and fix the legal predicament you find yourself in.

"You are willing to break this Parliament if it means escaping accountability for the wrongs you have done," Maimane told Zuma.

Silke expects similarly hard-hitting comments on Tuesday as parties jostle for position ahead of the local government elections.

"There will be a lot of confrontation and they will be very hard and maintain their pressure on President Jacob Zuma."

Silke said he expected the DA to focus on economic issues as well as the government's plan to create jobs.

"They will put a lot of pressure on Zuma and the ANC because they do not have a good story to tell at the moment, and they have admitted that."

He expected the EFF to focus on the ANC's business relations with the wealthy Gupta family.

"I expect a fairly embarrassing encounter over the next couple of weeks where the EFF lists all government's dealings with the Guptas."

Obviously, Silke said, ANC members would try by all means to paint the president and the ruling party in a good light.

"They will defend him and his statements. But I can tell you that all the things that the president did not mention in his address like Nkandla, Guptas and the Nene saga, will form a large part of the debate."

Silke said the opposition would also try to drive a wedge between Zuma and other senior ANC leaders.

"The way he dealt with the ministers of police and finance is going to cost him. It is going to be one of the most interesting debates because Zuma is in a weaker position because of the way he has handled a lot of issues."

Silke said he expected smaller parties to punch above their weight because they don't want to be swallowed by the bigger parties.

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