Maimane charms Zuma while Malema turns up the heat

2014-06-18 17:56

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The debate on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address was characterised by the contrasting debuts of the young leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, and Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane in the National Assembly.

Although Maimane was critical of Zuma’s speech, he chose to open his speech by establishing his credentials as a son of Soweto who was the beneficiary of the freedoms of Nelson Mandela. He painted himself as a patriotic South African who only wished the best for the country.

Maimane wished the president good health and said it was good to have him back from the leave he had to take as a result of exhaustion.

But even before the formal proceedings started, he went over to Zuma to shake his hand and engage in small talk.

This was in contrast to Malema whose speech was full of vitriol against his former cadres in the ANC and full of loathing for Zuma.

Malema said he initially thought it was not going be difficult to stand against the ANC but this was made easy when he saw former New National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk in the ANC benches.

Malema said Zuma’s speech was uninspiring and lacked a central theme. He said Zuma was extremely scared of white people – particularly white monopoly capital.

“You don’t have what it takes to lead the struggle for economic emancipation of the black majority. In your first address to this house as president you promised to create 500 000 jobs in six months and you failed and no one held you accountable.”

Malema was repeatedly called to order by the chairperson of the house, Thandi Modise, who asked him to withdraw some of his remarks. When he had finished, EFF members gave him a standing ovation. Maimane did criticise Zuma for saying nothing about corruption. He pointed out that four of the 11 municipalities rated as best performing in Zuma’s speech on Tuesday were DA-run municipalities.

“We agree with the president that South Africa requires a radical transformation and by this we mean bold policy ideas that grow the economy and create jobs. You see, radical plans are not in of themselves good simply because they are described as radical – just like wearing a beret does not make you a revolutionary,” Maimane said to loud applause.

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