The red overalls and the sharp suit debut

2014-06-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Yesterday two opposing young political leaders made their first speeches in Parliament.

On one bench sat EFF leader Julius Malema, dressed like a miner in his red overalls with a hard hat and gum boots. A few benches on sat Mmusi Maimane, the DA’s parliamentary leader, clad in a black suit.

While Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, replied to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, Maimane made notes.

He spoke after Radebe. Using words like “hope” and “a unique opportunity” and “potential”, he was the consummate orator, using sound byte sentences, stipulating his points with his left hand, finger and thumb held together.

Malema spoke after Maimane. He started with a sombre face, reading in a monotone from his speech, hands gripping the podium. His speech was peppered with word like “poor”, “the downtrodden”, “the hopeless masses”, “oppressors” and “imperialistic”.

His monotone became faster when he started berating Zuma and the ANC government on “radical economic transformation”. His sentences ran together and he was only interrupted on points of order.

When the acting chair of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, called Malema to order, the EFF leader first folded his arms and told Modise he would not be told what to say or which topics he could speak about, swinging his arms as he said so.

But when Modise pointed out the rule of the house he said: “OK, chair, I withdraw it.”

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