'This is a budget for President Gupta' - Maimane

2017-05-31 18:38
DA gives Mmusi Maimane standing ovation after his speech in the presidency's budget debate. (Jan Gerber, News24)

DA gives Mmusi Maimane standing ovation after his speech in the presidency's budget debate. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cape Town - "This is a budget for President Gupta!"

With these words DA leader Mmusi Maimane livened up the debate over the Presidency's budget on Wednesday.

With President Jacob Zuma sitting just to Maimane's right, Mbete ordered him to withdraw this remark, as there was "no President Gupta".

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen leapt up to complain that Maimane's freedom of speech was being impeded and that he was not referring to Zuma.

"He was referring to Ajay and Atul Gupta," cried Steenhuisen.

Zuma smirked while DA MPs pointed at him during Steenhuisen's initial exchange with Mbete.

Mbete would have none of Steenhuisen's protests, and Maimane eventually withdrew.

"I withdraw. But if the shoe fits, wear it," he said.

Steenhuisen again rose and told Mbete she had to treat all members fairly and impartially.

ANC MP Mervyn Dirks jumped up and said, referring to Steenhuisen: "That racist white boy is referring to the president as 'that man'."

'This man happened! He killed the ANC!'

Mbete ordered him to withdraw the comment, which he did. Her spat with Steenhuisen then resumed.

"You should be removed from the House by the white shirts," Steenhuisen growled.

"You need some anger management," Mbete retorted coolly.

"If I need anger management, you need serious psychiatry," Steenhuisen hit back.

There were some objections from the ANC, but Mbete let Maimane resume.

"For a party that stands for non-racialism, this is a new low," Maimane said in reference to Dirks' statement.

Much of Maimane's speech focused on Zuma's ties to state capture. When he first stepped up to the podium, cries of "Zambia!" rose from the ANC benches, in reference to his recent trip to that country. He was deported because he intended pressurising the courts to release opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, the country's High Commissioner Emmanuel Mwamba said last week.

In every speech by an ANC MP during the recent budget debates, they had mentioned former party president OR Tambo. Maimane said every time they did this, they reminded South Africa how far the ANC had fallen.

"This man happened! He killed the ANC!" Maimane said, pointing at Zuma.

'Mafia shadow state'

Zuma didn't react. ANC MP Bheki Radebe however complained that Maimane had referred to Zuma as "this man".

"First he killed the ANC, now he is killing the country. We can't come here and pretend the Presidency is anything other than a front for the Gupta headquarters," Maimane continued.

If ANC members voted for the Presidency's budget, they were sponsoring a "mafia shadow state," he said.

Zuma kept his hands in his lap most of the time, sometimes pursing his lips.

Maimane listed all the times the ANC had had the chance to get rid of Zuma.

"South Africa doesn't have a Zuma problem, it doesn't have a Gupta problem, it has an ANC problem."

Maimane left the podium to a standing ovation from the DA.

Zuma, opening the debate, said he would welcome a probe into "what is termed state capture," to establish the facts and to dispel rumours.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  jacob zuma  |  john steenhuisen  |  state capture  |  parliament 2017

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