President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially made it through his first State of the Nation address without any of the drama which has characterised those delivered by his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.
The Citizen reporter earlier that the EFF, hours before the address, still hadn’t decided whether or not they would be disrupting. They had threatened to turn proceedings into a “question-and-answer” session if Ramaphosa didn’t bring up the R500,000 donation hugely controversial facilities management company Bosasa made to his campaign to become leader of the ANC. In the end, they let the President off the hook.
After Ramaphosa started with an affectionate anecdote aimed at EFF leader Julius Malema, who was seen laughing at it, it was clear that this would be a calmer Sona, with people on social media even declaring it boring.
However, there were two definite moments of spice after which many South Africans confessed to thinking things might have been on the verge of descending into the EFF-driven chaos that infamously marked Sona’s throughout Zuma’s second term.
The first was when EFF’s Floyd Shivambu stood up to complain that Ramaphosa was “plagiarising” ideas from the EFF.
He said he was just “concerned” about plagiarism but added that he would confront the matter at a later stage, after which proceedings returned to normal.
Compared to past Sonas, it could barely count as a disruption, but it was one of the two more hair-raising moments of 2019.
The other moment brought proceedings closer to chaos, with parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete forced to call for order, much like she had to do many times in the past few years, after Malema made fun of Deputy Justice and Correctional Services Minister Thabang Makwetla.
Ramaphosa was speaking about the various commissions set up by the state, including the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, and said those implicated will be prosecuted.
Julius Malema then caused a brief commotion and stood up, upon which he was asked if he had called a point of order, to which he replied, “Honourable Makwetla is clapping hands, he thinks we are playing here, he is going to jail”.
National council of provinces (NCOP) chairperson Thandi Modise, clearly eager to avoid proceedings descending into chaos, said “Honourable Matkwetla, please stop clapping hands”.
Makwetla is one of many government officials implicated in corruption involving Bosasa, and has admitted that the company installed free security upgrades at his home.
Soon after Modise successfully defused the situation, things returned to normal, and Ramaphosa was able to complete the speech without disruption.
For two brief moments, however, things could have gone either way.
— Maano (@divhambelemaano) February 7, 2019
Cyril Ramaphosa: Members shall be prosecuted
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— Man's Not Barry Roux (@AdvBarryRoux) February 7, 2019