Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has criticised President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address on Thursday night, saying he missed an opportunity to restore the confidence of many South Africans.
Despite Zuma’s announcement that his administration intended to embark on a cost-cutting measure that would see, among other things, oversees trips by government officials reduced, Maimane said he expected Zuma to do much better.
“The president was not bold enough on budget cuts. He literally cut food and travel.
Those are small things. The president should have announced the privatisation of SAA and other parastatals to make sure we can recoup the capital to finance the developmental projects in the country. He should have made sure that he cut his cabinet by half so that he release some of the money towards higher education. It [Zuma’s speech] should have been bold, but the president announced more or less the same things he did last year,” said Maimane.
He described Zuma as compromised man, who had no clue how to pull South Africa out of the current economic crisis.
“We are in deep economic crisis and I don’t think President Zuma has got [the] capacity to address that,” said Maimane.
Zuma should have been open with the people of South Africa and apologised to them about the Nkandla scandal, said Maimane, referring to Zuma’s concession in the Constitutional Court this week that he was prepared to pay a portion of the R246-million used for security upgrades at his homestead.
Maimane also said Zuma should have announced government plans to develop small businesses in South Africa as part of the strategy to create more jobs in the country.
“We believe business should create jobs. Rather than him telling us about how the government was planning to create 100 black industrialists, he should have focused on millions of black small businesses, so that we can make sure that there is wealth that we develop to make sure more jobs are created. We should have focused on key sectors.
We must focus on plans that deals with creating more jobs,” said Maimane.
He lashed out at Economic Freedom Fighters [EFF] MPs for disrupting proceedings during the state of the nation address.
His sentiments were shared by Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
“We are sick and tired of the chaos in Parliament. Maybe it is because of my age, but if a head of state is supposed to deliver the state of the nation, we must appreciate that he is not addressing members of Parliament only. It’s a message to the whole country. It is an insult to the people of South Africa that he [Zuma] should be distracted,” said Buthelezi.
However, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivhambu said it was the EFF’s duty to speak out about issues of corruption.
“We can’t be complicit by leaving a corrupt president to go on as if is business as usual. We are led by a corrupt individual and we must expose that. If they [the DA and IFP] want to be part of that corruption its, let them go on. When we first got to Parliament in 2014, they [DA and IFP] said we are chaotic, but now that we have made progress [in holding Zuma accountable and took him to the Constitutional Court], they want to jump into the bandwagon.