Mazibuko is inexperienced, clueless – Gigaba

2012-02-15 07:02

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has torn into the DA’s top dogs, playing off party leader Helen Zille against parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko during the first day of the state of the nation debates.

While he made a point of wishing MPs a happy Valentines Day, there was no love lost between him and Mazibuko as he called her “grossly inexperienced” and “hopelessly clueless”.

As the last speaker in the debate yesterday – a task the ANC caucus only entrusts to its politically more astute members – and acting as the “sweeper” of all the arguments, Gigaba pointed out that Mazibuko and Zille took different positions on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address (SONA), delivered last Thursday.

Shortly after Zuma’s speech, Mazibuko told eNews channel that it wasn’t good for government to get involved in infrastructure development. But yesterday, her speech was more aligned with Zille’s original view on the matter, and Mazibuko said state investment in infrastructure, “coupled with a sound financial strategy and real capacity in implementing agent, is the best way the state can create the economic enabling environment for growth”.

In reference to her remarks to the television news channel, Gigaba said: “Failing to curb her inexplicable eagerness, the camera-prone honourable Mazibuko had to please her constituency eager for doomsday news and criticise the SONA,” he said.

On the contrary, Zille “applauded the President’s focus on the infrastructure and correctly challenged the government to ‘cut the red tape in order to create jobs’,” he said.

Gigaba said there was “quite clearly” a contrast between Zille, “whose stint as premier has exposed her to the challenges and intricacies of running a government”, and Mazibuko “whose only experience is as an opponent who has never had to lift a finger to do anything”.

He said she “amended” her “ill-informed remarks” made shortly after SONA, “in a haste” during yesterday’s debate, but still, her speech was a “pipe dream and incoherent wish-list that reminded me of where we were in 1994”.

He said Zuma’s speech “on the contrary, built on the proud edifice of 1994, and took South Africa into the future where the economy grows, people work, the youth are skilled”.

Mazibuko, who also read parts of her speech in Zulu, said she believed “we should be talking about how the South Africa we live in differs from the South Africa we dream about”.

She said South Africans didn’t have to accept poor living conditions.

“I don’t want to live in a South Africa in which you are locked into a particular kind of life forever, simply because you were born into it. And I believe there can be an alternative; another country of our making,” she said.

Mazibuko said the DA as a “government-in-waiting” would prioritise the economy and education.

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel earlier also criticised Mazibuko’s “dreaming”. Speaking about the national planning commission’s development plan towards 2030, he told Mazibuko, “it is not about dreams, but about making sacrifices”.

He quoted Peter Tosh’s lyrics to her, saying “everybody wants to go to heaven, nobody wants to die”.

Gigaba’s criticism of speakers went beyond Mazibuko, and he gave newcomer Johan Steenhuisen, DA MP, a baptism of fire.

Steenhuisen made his “virgin” speech to the National Assembly yesterday.

Gigaba said the opposition “should not limit the understanding of their being in this House to be purely for the sake of opposing. If this be the case, I can assure them that they do not need so many seats just perpetually to say ‘no’.”

He slammed Steenhuisen’s example of good governance in the Western Cape, and listed the province’s problems with race and gender transformation, as well as the R1 billion communications tender, which has been widely questioned.

Gigaba also dismissed Steenhuisen’s call for Zuma to side with the poor. “What cheek!” he said. Zuma sided with the poor when he joined the struggle, “long before you became even an idea in your parents’ minds!”

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota was Gigaba’s next target. Gigaba said Lekota spoke “so eloquently about job losses and people taking others’ jobs”, but the way former Cope leader Mbhazima Shilowa was sidelined, reminded Gigaba of “who took (Shilowa’s) jobs and why is he jobless”.

The second part of the debate is set to start at 2pm today.

Zuma is expected to give his reply tomorrow.

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