15 February 2017

South Africa: Deputy Minister Buti Manamela - Debate of the State of the Nation Address

press release

Speech by the Deputy Minister in The Presidency, Hon. Buti Manamela, on occasion of the Debate on The State of the Nation, National Assembly, Parliament

Madam Speaker

His Excellency, President Zuma

Deputy President Ramaphosa

Honourable Members

Last week, in the build up to the State of the Nation Address, the Economic Freedom Fighters made several statements in the media to the effect that they WILL disrupt the sitting and WILL not allow the President to speak in this august house.

Whatever their reasons, there was no reason to believe that they would not follow through this threat as they did in past sittings of this House.

As appropriate, the leadership of parliament made the necessary arrangements to ensure that, whatever happens, the President, elected by the majority of this house, ultimately speaks to the country on matters pertaining to the state of the nation.

True to form, the EFF wasted no time. Moving from the ridiculous, the bizarre and the mundane, including producing lunch packet zippers and alleging that there is an intention to inject them with biological warfare-type chemicals that would render them incapacitated for the day, the EFF charged on.

Thirty six points of order and one hour eight minutes later, including a barrage of rehearsed insults aimed at the speaker and the state president, the EFF was finally removed from the house so that we proceed with the business of the day.

They understood what the implications were, and knew that two things were to happen on that day.

Either the nation will wait in awe in front of their television screens for the president to finally speak to them, or the EFF gets ejected from the house.

They came armed.

Even in the public gallery some of the guests allege that Dali Mpofu, the National Chairperson, of the EFF, discharged a pepper spray with the intention of sabotaging the presentation of the State of the Nation all to the harm of former heads of state and other leaders on the continent.

Sitting here, in this house, I witnessed first-hand how EFF MP's charged at the 'white shirts' whose intention was to remove them peacefully and allow the business of the house to continue.

The EFF and any member of this august house has every right to protest against the President and the government without fear and intimidation.

But it must be clear.

As much as we should be careful of the dictatorship of the majority, and the fact that the ANC should at all times be considerate of the views of the small parties, WE CAN NEVER ALLOW THE TYRANNY OF THE MINORITY TO REIGN.

Sixty two percent of the electorate voted for the ANC to govern, and not to sit here in parliament and turn the other cheek again and again as the presiding officers are intimidated on a yearly basis.

Sixty two percent of our people elected the ANC into this house not to be a meek, voiceless, powerless majority that cowers down to a party that only got six percent of the votes.

This institution has rules, which have been agreed to by all parties, and those rules are there to be followed.

There is a problematic narrative out there that seeks to suggest that for the ANC to be seen to be democratic, and for the presiding officers to be impartial, they must allow some members of this house to abuse them without them resorting to implementing the rules of this house to restore order.

Essentially, according to this narrative, all that the presiding officers should have done was to allow a long night of frivolity and vexatious points of order whose intention was to stop the state president from executing his duties.

This problematic narrative suggests that the engagement with the state of our nation can only happen as and when 36 of the 490 MP's are agreeable in the joint sitting.

On that day, attempts by the leader of the opposition, Mmusi Maimane, to let sanity prevail was drowned out by irrationality even from his own political party.

This led to the DA, again, kowtowing to the agenda of the EFF of disrupting sittings of the National Assembly without being seen to be rowdy and uncouth like their EFF counterparts.

We have heard words such as 'creeping dictatorship,"increased militarisation,'abuse of power', and 'ignorance of the constitution and parliamentary rules' being used consistently by the DA in this debate referring to the events of last Thursday.

The conduct of the DA on Thursday reminded me of the dog in Aesop's Fables's, with a big piece of meat in its jaws and was crossing the river. When it saw its own reflection in the waters, believed that there is another dog with another bigger piece of meat, and it dropped that which it had and in the process lost everything.

Your constituency, which expects you to help bring sanity in the house, who voted you for who you are and not for you to hang on the apron strings of the EFF, are watching you.

They are watching how you believe that the only way to oppose the ANC is to behave like the EFF.

If they wanted the EFF, they would have voted for them.

I'm warning you.

You have more MP's in this house than the EFF, you should start acting the part and stop believing that for you to get the black youth vote, that's what you need to do.

It is very patronising and very childish.

You speak of the suppression of voices in democratic spaces, yet you were refusing the ANC to hold the people's assembly here in Cape Town.

You speak of pushing people away from parliament, yet you declined the ANC's application for a people's assembly from 35 000 people to a mere 10 000.

You speak of parliament being shut down and not accessible to the people, yet you have shut down and kicked out hundreds of thousands of minstrels here in Cape Town for their Twede Nuwe Jaar all because you believe they belong to the ANC and therefore should not enjoy the freedom of the City.

You have no authority of accusing anyone of abusing state institutions to suppress democracy when your record has no fragrance of democracy here in the city of Cape Town.

Honourable Members,

When the Honourable Mmusi Maimane took over to the podium yesterday to respond to a State of the Nation Address which only he knows where it was delivered, he reminded me of the words of British writer and political publicist who once remarked: "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."

In his rants and heap of rabble meant to slumber the nation into believing how good the Democratic Alliance would be if it leads the country, Honourable Maimane knew that there should be a problem somewhere, but because it doesn't exist, he then either prescribed a wrong remedy or proposed preposterous one's with the hope that a vulnerable electorate would swim towards his bait.

Of the many he did mention, education was the one he spoke of with such pastoral passion that I nearly shouted AMEN. But on second reading, I realised how the DA Bishop is churning out solutions to problems whose solutions have been resolved.

In his TO DO LIST, he suggests that the DA will "Invest in training existing teachers and recruiting more teachers with excellent skills, particularly in Maths and Science".

Let me enlighten you, Mr Maimane. There is an Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) programme that is initiated by the Department of Basic Education which focuses on training and supporting teachers who are already in the system.

The Fundza Lushaka programme already recruits teachers into university training to teach scarce skills in schools, and since 2013, more than 15 000 teachers who have graduated from this programme have been deployed into schools.

Secondly, you suggested that the DA will "explore the feasibility of bringing back teacher training colleges." This government of the people, Honourable Maimane, has already explored this possibility and has reopened three former Colleges of Education, and will be opening more of these in a not too distant future. We are committed to ensure that we have quality teaching in our schools

Honourable Maimane further says that the "poorest students will be comprehensively supported, and the missing middle, who cannot secure funding or bank loans, will receive support proportional to their family income".

Where have you been, Hon Maimane, what planet do you live in?

The Minister of Higher Education announced a stop-gap plan for the missing middle whose parents earn a combined income of less than 600 000 a year, and this government of the people has paid-off all historical debt owed since 2013 by students, thus there is peace on campuses.

This may not be enough, and can only be dealt with by the provision of public free higher education, but this train of the government of the people is moving faster than our train of thought.

You suggest that you will provide young people with a free year of technical and vocational training.

Allow me to enlighten you, the unenlightened one. This government of the people is providing more than 90% of the 770 000 students in TVET colleges are exempted from paying 80% of the cost towards their full tuition and transport.

And so it applies with your belated and already being implemented programmes on internships, support for small businesses which, as you rightly plagiarized from the NDP, has the potential to provide 90% of the required 11 million jobs.

What irks me and millions of young people was your mention of young people as a 'Lost Generation,' whereas, where you are governing in Tshwane and Johannesburg, you are cutting out opportunities for these young people.

Our greatest regret as the ANC for losing elections in these Metros to you and your EFF is not that we are out of power, but that millions of young people in these Metros are at the receiving end of programmes that your government is cancelling.

The ANC in Tshwane had a Wi-Fi hotspot that was to the benefit to more than 2.2 million unique users and 310 000 connections per day of people who cannot afford expensive data plans from mobile operators.

They used these to scan the web for opportunities available, send out CV's, use for research and be connected to the world wide web through news and other forms of education.

Unisa students used this to stream videos of lectures, and send assignments on time without the hustle of transport costs to their campuses.

And what did the DA Metro do in Tshwane, they showed all of them the middle finger and declared that the programme is under review with the possibility of being CANCELLED.

Surprisingly, the Mayor did not even cancel the 'posh car' and the 'blue lights' which he promised he would once he assumed office, but rushed to the Wi-Fi scene as soon as he heard.

The situation in Johannesburg has become even worse.

The ANC had a grant programme called Vulindlel'eJozi, a youth development programme that included a Massive Open Online Varsity Network, Smartstart Creche programme and other curated opportunity channels across the private sector and had 20 000 beneficiaries, with the potential of more than 100 000 beneficiaries.

And what did the DA and Trump wannabe Mayor Mashaba do?

They showed the youth the middle finger and declared the programme as: CANCELLED.

The Digital Ambassadors Programme that benefitted 2000 young people was also declared as: CANCELLED, and sent the youth who were part of this programme into the 'Lost Generation' dustbin as you said.

The JoziMyBeginning programme which were to create 700 jobs through supporting the roll-out of seven prototype container micro malls with a potential of more malls has also been declared as: CANCELLED.

This also happened with the Jozi@Work programme, which opened up government contracting to over 100 community based enterprises, employing more than 10 000 citizens.

The DA is undoing all of these because, as the Honourable Maimane said yesterday, they are cutting the pipeline that feeds ANC cronies and are squashing corruption.

Let us fight cronyism and corruption with more energy and more vigour. But are we going to condemn millions of young people into a "Lost Generation" simply because the programmes that benefits them were initiated by the ANC.

With all of these, I declare, that it is you who is the enemy of the people.

Our democracy was born as a result of negotiations, and although a lot of blood was shed, a lot more was avoided through a sunset clause which saw a smooth transition between the old apartheid state and the new democratic government. In those years, there was cynicism predominantly from the white community around the capacity of blacks to govern this country.

They mentioned countries near and far within the continent and how they have become failed states and dictatorships.

This not only applied to political institutions, but also to economic institutions. Each time Nelson Mandela, who was only endeared by the white folks only after his retirement, and only to use him against his own comrades, appointed a Finance Minister or a Reserve Bank Governor who was of a darker shade, the 'market' shook in disapproval.

But what was important was the unwritten injunction that redistribution and restitution of land would proceed in such a manner that it would not disrupt the peace and ignite an already volatile situation. Government implemented the willing-buyer-willing-seller principle, with the hope that, because we cannot manufacture more land, those who had acquired it illegally and by force would be willing to sell it reasonably to government, which will transfer it to the people.

This was a costly exercise as prices were inflated, processes stalled, courts abused in order to ensure that land is not transferred in an expedited, judicious and also transformative manner

.

The President was right. The land question is at the heart of reconciliation, and without land, the black majority are gradually threatening to crush the rainbow nation.

Be that as it may, to suggest that our resolve to satisfy land hunger stems from populism is the most shallow of arguments that has been repeated by those who love and vote for the DA since 1994.

But yesterday, Honourable Maimane, you pushed the envelope much further as you danced with the devil that denies our people land by suggesting that we want to push this country towards Zimbabwe.

For millions of the landless, this is adding insult to injury.

You, who purports to represent a new generation of youth and of liberalism, suggests that any programme that gives them land is Zimbabwe-like and populism, is anything but disgusting and gutter politics.

Worse, saying this without declaring any form of alternative.

It is clear to all of us as to who is the enemy of the people, Honourable Maimane, and you fit the description you want to bestow on us.

Radical economic transformation, focusing on the land question, shall push ahead, with or without your support.

As long as those who were on the other side of the CODESA table are not holding out their end of the bargain, they will be held responsible if your perilous suggestions comes through.

Thank you!

Issued by: The Presidency

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