During President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday evening, he began with a joke and anecdote after naming and recognising VIP guests in parliament.
In last year’s Sona, Ramaphosa delivered a memorable address focusing on hope and the catchphrase “Thuma Mina”, borrowed from a Hugh Masekela song, which he quoted at length.
Shortly after starting his address, Ramaphosa spoke off the cuff and joked that EFF leader Julius Malema challenged him last year to not just quote the song, but also sing it.
Ramaphosa said he’d thought about that and, when he bumped into Malema by chance yesterday, had told him he would agree to sing the song in the event that the EFF wins the next elections.
“I want to start off with a disclaimer … a disclaimer that arises from my input last year when I invoked Hugh Masekela’s song Thuma Mina and one member of our assembly here, none other than Julius Malema, whispered ‘sing it’.
“He was challenging me to sing the song. I hesitated for a while, thinking I would take him up on his challenge and sing, but I thought it wise not to do so.
“Yesterday, by chance, I met Mr Julius Malema and we reached an agreement. We agreed that if the EFF wins the elections and Malema is installed as president, he will invite me up on stage to sing for him.
“And by sheer accident I also bumped into Mmusi Maimane and I recruited him into the band we are going to form.”
Many South Africans were on tenterhooks over whether the EFF would disrupt this year’s address. However, it seemed this would not happen as Malema chuckled and looked relaxed and Ramaphosa was allowed to speak unhindered for the first 20 minutes of his address, as of the publication of this article.
Some on Twitter felt that what Ramaphosa had done was a brilliant “strategy” to declaw the EFF.
Light hearted banter? A de-ganging of a viper is what actually happened. Malema was totally bamboozled, realizing that Cyril had firmly secured the moral high ground. Brilliant strategy that put paid to any shenanigans Juju May have had in mind #Sona
— Paul (@PAULN0GUEIRA) February 7, 2019
— Simon Moyo (@smoyo1972) February 7, 2019
SA President in his SONA jokes abt singing a song to the opposition should Malema become the next President. Meanwhile someone somewhere in Harare is getting a beating from the authorities for supporting the opposition? Tough
— Dave C. Chikosi (@faithcoach4u) February 7, 2019
— Buhle_co.za (@CoBuhle) February 7, 2019
— Action setaka (@setakal) February 7, 2019
Speaking to journalists outside parliament earlier, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said they would decide on how they planned to hold Ramaphosa “accountable” for what they allege is his involvement in Bosasa corruption.
Earlier, they had threatened to disrupt the Sona, and transform the proceedings into chaos. The EFF had threatened to turn the address into a question-and-answer session, demanding that Ramaphosa “come clean” on the R500,000 donation made by highly controversial facilities management company Bosasa to his campaign for the presidency of the ANC.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko called the EFF’s disruption threats “very unfortunate” and said it would be politically opportunistic for parties to use the Sona to push their own agendas.
Diko added that both the DA and EFF had taken the president to the public protector over the matter and that the investigation should be allowed to run its course.
“It would be best for her (Mkhwebane) to be allowed to conclude her work unhindered,” she said.
????????????Neh, we cannot have
SONA without "Point of order" drama https://t.co/FxT0SYFZvZ
— Celia (@Tshepo_Rafuma) February 7, 2019