During his response to the two day SONA debate, president Jacob Zuma reiterated the strategic focus of the ANC, stating that the aim is to develop a country for each and every South African regardless of whom they voted for.
Defending his report back on work done during the previous year, Zuma’s response also addressed claims by opposition parties on the ruling government’s lack of implementing the Freedom Charter.
“We have outlined the areas of work that we believe is important for us. We thank all honourable members for their contribution to the debate. We welcome all inputs made by all members,” Zuma said in opening to his response..
“Our people look to us to provide answers and solutions to the difficulties they may face. It is no other house but this house to do so for our people.”
Zuma reassured honourable members of Parliament that, “indeed the country is on track”. Adding that work continues daily to build the country and improve the quality of life.
“South Africa is a success story.”
The National Assembly sat in silence as Zuma addressed their concerns.
“Our task is to contribute in whatever way we can. To take this success forward… Our democracy remains solid. All our democratic institutions, including government are strong and functional,” Zuma told MPs.
On the first day of the debate, Parliamentarians such as leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema along with Democratic Alliance National Spokesperson, Mmusi Maimane questioned the ruling party’s implementation of the Freedom Charter, as stipulated in Zuma’s speech. Zuma said in his response, that the aim is to ensure the country’s wealth is shared amongst all, as proclaimed in the Freedom Charter.
Meanwhile, Zuma thanked Parliamentarians for their respect during the debate, especially Malema for the way in which he has dealt with SONA and participated in the debate. Zuma also addressed Malema’s concern for temporary workers within the Mining industry. “In terms of the amended Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act, the issues raised by Malema have been resolved,” Zuma explained.
“All workers will be employed permanently in the Mining industry. Temporary work contracts will not exceed three months. In addition, Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa will continue to lead the dialogue to a national minimum wage.”
Zuma also addressed the chaos at SONA.
“We are reminded of what happened at SONA. We need to preserve the dignity of parliament. We must ensure that our people do not lose confidence in Parliaments ability to produce legislation aimed at improving the quality of their lives. We also have the responsibility to promote the constitution,” Zuma further stated.
In addition, Zuma also expressed his disappointment at the security issues at SONA on Thursday, citing the signal interference as an unfortunate incident that should never happen again.
After Zuma’s response, social media lit up with South Africans applauding the presidents efforts. Many on social media have voiced their belief that Zuma’s display of elocution and authority in his response should have surfaced during the SONA 2015. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)