Zuma not losing sleep over EFF's Sona threats

President Jacob Zuma has lambasted Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters after the party threatened to disrupt his State of the Nation Address on Thursday. (David Harrison, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma has lambasted Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters after the party threatened to disrupt his State of the Nation Address on Thursday. (David Harrison, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma has lambasted Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters after the party threatened to disrupt his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

Addressing editors at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guest house in Pretoria on Sunday, Zuma again pleaded innocence, claiming he was not responsible for the R250-million security upgrade at his Nkandla homestead.

Zuma accused the EFF of using the Nkandla issue to score political points, saying he would not have allowed the question about when he will pay back the money if he was the speaker of Parliament.
“If you remember when they [the EFF] raised the issue, the matter was under discussion in Parliament. We were participating in a process. In fact even that question ... I would have not allowed the question as there was a committee established. Why do you ask the question? You wait for the committee to conclude and then bring a report, then you have time to ask questions,” said Zuma.

‘Not guilty’
  He said none of the three government agencies that investigated the matter found him guilty of squandering taxpayers’ money. “When the matter of Nkandla emerged it was said that Zuma squandered 200 and something million. Three institutions have investigated, the government, the SIU and the Public Protector. Not a single one has said Zuma squandered money. That serious allegation has never been made. Then the Public Protector says it unduly benefitted the family. It changes the allegation that I squandered and I ate government money. It’s not a small matter, its not a small matter that you can make that kind of claim.

“So Zuma never decided that firstly the security upgrade should be built. Never. Zuma built his own house. Government said so because the constitution said so. This matter is investigated by the security cluster. Is it because for the first time we have a president from Nkandla that there is a big debate? I don’t think it’s fair. Why did that recommendation come? I never decided that. To me it’s a kind of report that it was important that it was subjected to Parliament and Parliament has looked at the report and pronounced so why should I worry about the EFF and not the very conclusions of the Parliament in which they participate. I don’t see any logic,” said Zuma.

He said he was not having sleepless nights about the EFF’s threat to disrupt the State of the Nation Address. “I am not nervous at all. I have never been nervous all my life,” said a relaxed looking Zuma. He implied that the people who voted for the EFF wasted their energy as the party had nothing to offer but to disrupt Parliament.

“I think EFF said to all of us ... they are going to Parliament to misbehave and the people voted for them to go to Parliament to misbehave. They said we are going to change Parliament, it is not going to be the same. That’s what they are doing. The voters voted for them. It’s not our problem. What we are going to do is to use the rules of Parliament to make them behave. That’s what the country should be saying. That’s what I would be expecting the media to say. They can’t continue the same way. This is just not on. That kind of behaviour is not right. If I was a voter, I would be saying, ‘sorry I voted, I did not know’. And I would be taking a serious decision not to vote for them (EFF) again,” said Zuma.

‘Uniforms degrade people’
  He accused the EFF of taking advantage of the plight of mine workers and domestic workers by wearing workers attire in Parliament. “If you were a person who once worked in the mine, it’s terrible. If you worked in the domestic areas, it’s terrible. People who worked there don’t like those uniforms because they degrade people. It’s not something to be proud of. When they work in those places, on Sundays they take their best to feel they are human beings. And you think you are fighting for them? I think if I was a journalist I would be having continuous columns analysing the mentality of the party,” said Zuma.   

ANC MPs unsuccessfully tried to change Parliament rules in order to prevent EFF MPs from wearing their red overalls and gumboots in Parliament. 

The Sunday Times reported that Parliament has taken the unprecedented step of sending its security staff on self defence classes in preparation for Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.

Malema told the Mail & Guardian on Sunday his party did not take Zuma’s remarks about the EFF seriously. “We are meeting him (Zuma) on Thursday. He thinks we are playing. We are going to show him who we are,” said Malema.

The EFF leader said since Zuma took over as ANC president, many people have turned their backs on the ANC. He said contrary to what Zuma claimed, the EFF’s campaign to get the president to pay back the money enjoyed support from ordinary people. “When we went to Mohlakeng today (Sunday), people started chanting ‘pay back the money’,” said Malema.

‘Energy is not a new problem’
  Meanwhile, Zuma said he still had confidence in his economic cluster ministers, despite the energy crisis in the country. “You are not dealing with the country that has been developing normally all this year. We started developing from 1994. You can’t say the past has not affected us. I think as government we are doing our best to address the economy. Energy is not a new problem. We have a comprehensive plan to deal with the matter.

“There are still millions who still have electricity while we covered about 11 million. It’s not a fabrication, it’s a reality. You can’t blame it on individuals or ministers. The fact of the matter is that we never had enough energy. Other people were excluded. We are dealing with it. We’re building huge power stations. We are also going to build nuclear.”



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML

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