Zuma adds humorous touch to Sona debate response

Going from sombre to funny to analytical – and even fitting in a history lesson in his 80 minute speech – President Jacob Zuma had MPs nodding, shaking their heads or clapping loudly as he delivered his reply to the State of the Nation Address debate.

The president even took time out to commend Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema for making valid points during the debate – considering they had not been there, a dig at Malema and his MPs, referring to them being thrown out of Parliament before the State of the Nation Address.

Addressing Malema’s concerns on part-time workers and labour brokers, Zuma said his concerns have been resolved.

“In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Acts as amended, all workers will be employed permanently. Temporary work contracts will not exceed three months, as honourable [Edwin] Makue also pointed out. In addition honourable members, the deputy president [Cyril Ramaphosa] will continue to lead the Nedlac [National Economic Development and Labour Council] dialogue relating to a national minimum wage.”

In his debate to the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, Malema said  workers in hotels, restaurants, mining and construction sectors and retail shops did not enjoy the Freedom Charter as only a few had permanent jobs.

The Land Holdings Bill 
Addressing some of the concerns raised by opposition parties over the Land Holdings Bill and the restriction of foreign ownership, Zuma said it only applied to agricultural land.

“It does not affect those foreign nationals who are planning to buy homes or residences. We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few. We are keenly aware of the contribution of the country’s hard working farmers to the economy and food security. However, the effective participation of the previously excluded black majority in agriculture and food production will only occur meaningfully, when they have access to land and the means to work it.

“An inclusive and scientific process will be used to assess the situation in different commodities and in different localities, so as to make sure that nothing is done that will prejudice food security in the country.”

Supply chain management
In response to Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota’s concerns over supply chain management in government, Zuma said a centralised supplier database will be phased in from April.

“Once fully functional, this will replace the six hundred or so supplier databases that currently exist. The system will offer a quick and more effective mechanism for verifying supplier information, such as their BEE status, tax certificates and the like. These are factors that currently give rise to negative audit outcomes for departments. 

The economic cluster departments will work with the National Treasury further to explore practical and effective mechanisms of using state procurement to give practical expression to the National Development Plan and our socioeconomic objectives, including supporting SMMEs [small, medium and micro enterprises] and cooperatives.”

Buthelezi: ‘The voice of reason’
In the middle of his delivery, the president took time out to thank Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for always being the voice of reason when MPs are heckling each other.

“You sometimes resemble a father figure to us … It’s always good to have senior citizens around,” he said to Buthelezi, who took a bow from his seat.

Quality education a priority
Zuma said improving the quality of education and training remained a priority to government.

“Progress is being made to steadily improve outcomes in the basic education sector. We believe we have the right formula at last and that results in all grades will continue to steadily improve.  

“The white paper for post-school education and training provides for the establishment of community education and training colleges that will primarily target youth and adults who did not complete schooling or who have never attended school. 

The process of identifying nine community education and training colleges for piloting in 2015 has been completed. This initiative will be implemented in collaboration with local authorities, Sector Education and Training Authorities, community organisations and business. This is in addition to the re-opening of teacher and nursing colleges.”

A history lesson on colonialism
He reassured Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder that no one was chasing Afrikaner compatriots away from the country. This after Mulder, in his response to the State of the Nation Address, expressed concern over Zuma’s 103rd ANC party celebrations speech, where he stated that the problems in the Western Cape started with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck.

After delivering a history lesson on colonialism and the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and the Eastern Cape wars – while pointing out it was in the history books – Zuma told Mulder that South Africa belonged to all who live in it.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

The promised land? Lack of access to finance hinders farmers

The agricultural sector has grown this year, but an absence of collateral is preventing black farmers from making a go of their business

Ramaphosa reiterates support for emerging farmers

On the back of the announcement that the government would allocate more land to be leased by emerging farmers, President Cyril Ramaphosa says that beneficiaries will also be trained in financial management and enterprise development

State to lease more land to emerging farmers

Land reform minister announces an intensified programme to allocate arable land to emerging farmers

Clicks-bait: EFF MP’s new parole probe

Kenny Motsamai, a parolee who is also an EFF MP, could be sent back to jail if correctional services finds he violated his parole conditions

EFF MPs to be investigated for disrupting parliamentary proceedings

Under the spotlight will be the Economic Freedom Fighters’ behaviour at the State of the Nation address and during the public enterprise department’s budget speech

Labour battle: labour brokers back in court

Some believed a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling would spell the end of labour broking. It didn’t

Subscribers only

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday