Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

South Africa: State of the Nation 2014 Debate - 'A Good Story' Vs. 'A Dreadful Story'

analysis

The ANC has introduced a new catchphrase into political parlance: "We have a good story to tell". It began at the ANC's manifesto launch in January and echoed through President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address last week to flag the ANC's record of achievements

. It was also the thread running through Tuesday's debate on the State of the Nation address, but upended by the opposition to hammer the ANC for its failures. The evidence was piled on both sides of the House on Tuesday to support the ANC's version of a good story or to argue why South Africa was heading for catastrophe. Somewhere in the middle is South Africa's real story.

The last time there was a meme that ran through a Parliamentary debate was when the South African Constitution was adopted in 1996. Thabo Mbeki, at the time Deputy President, delivered his unforgettable "I am an African" speech, which enraptured the House and the nation.

President Nelson Mandela sat at the front bench on Mbeki's right listening in delight, his hand cupping his face and a smile playing on his lips.

The political party leaders who spoke after Mbeki, starting with National Party ...

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