This year’s debate on the State of the Nation was a relatively stodgy affair as speaker after speaker extended their own olive branches and pledged to work with fledgling President Cyril Ramaphosa in rebuilding South Africa.
However, the peace offerings were not unconditional, with each party adding their own requirements to a growing list of demands.
“We have removed a corrupt and broken president from office. Our task now is to fix the broken country he left behind,” said Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.
“And I want to pledge my support, and the support of my party towards the realisation of this goal,” Maimane said.
Maimane said Ramaphosa had to begin with education, and noted there had to be an acknowledgment the school system was in a crisis, and lambasted the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union for the apparent role it played in developing the crisis.
He also suggested a year of national service in public service such as education, healthcare and policing “could help thousands of school leavers gain crucial work experience, and possibly kick-start their careers”.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was uncharacteristically conciliatory, but also didn’t mince his words.
“We thank the judiciary, we thank the media, we thank the NGOs and all opposition parties and the people of South Africa for defeating the monster created by the ruling party,” Malema said. “I want to state very clearly on behalf of the EFF we are willing to give you a chance as the president.
“We only give you a chance because you have not been personally found guilty of being a constitutional delinquent,” Malema said, reversing his stance on Marikana where he had promised to make life difficult for Ramaphosa.
It was the third sitting in a row the EFF completed without walking out or being thrown out.
Maimane called for Ramaphosa to show he was serious about fighting corruption and to fire Bathabile Dlamini, Faith Muthambi, Mosebenzi Zwane, Malusi Gigaba, Des van Rooyen, David Mahlobo, Lynne Brown and Bongani Bongo.
“It also means removing from office cadres deployed to serve the interests of this corrupt system – cadres like Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Shaun Abrahams,” Maimane said.