10 most memorable moments of SONA 2016

President Jacob Zuma addressing the nation during SONA 2016
President Jacob Zuma addressing the nation during SONA 2016

Cape Town – After the EFF disrupted last year’s State of the Nation Address, and then promised to disrupt it again this year, there was bound to be drama in the National Assembly on Thursday evening.

Here are 10 memorable moments from this year’s speech:

1) The Public Protector’s “power”

While the red carpet was filled with eye-popping, and shape-hugging outfits, it was Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s yellow dress that stole the spotlight.

When asked by a journalist if her sunny choice of colour was symbolic for friendship, she replied: “It is the colour of victory”.

Earlier, Madonsela tweeted her thanks to fashion designer Gert Johan Coetzee for the gown, adding: “Hope I do justice to it today”.

On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court heard the EFF, DA, and Madonsela’s case to clarify the nature and extent of the Chapter 9 institution’s powers to take remedial action, and to compel President Jacob Zuma to repay some of the R246 million spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead.

They argued that Zuma had failed to comply with Madonsela’s findings that he unduly benefited from the upgrades, some of which did not relate to security.

Judgment was reserved in the case.

2) The EFF opens Parliament

Before Zuma stood up to talk, Economic Freedom Fighters MP Floyd Shivambu raised a point of order.

Shivambu said he was seeking clarity on the rules of the House. Speaker Baleka Mbete replied that she would “not like to give attention” to the matter at present.

When Mbete attempted to continue with proceedings, EFF leader Julius Malema told her he wanted to deal with questions to the president before his speech.

“I don’t want to stand up while the president is there,” said Malema.

Mbete said the only business of the day was Zuma’s speech and Malema shouted: “Allow us to speak.”

3) My international award winning speaker of non-violence

During one of the disruptions, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi addressed Mbete as: “My international award winning speaker of non-violence”.

Other MPs laughed. When Malema stood up to address Mbete, he told her: “You are winning awards now. Carry on like that. This kind of behaviour will stop you from winning more awards.”

In January, Mbete received the Martin Luther King Legacy Award for International Service.

4) Zupta must fall

Following more disruptions by the EFF, Malema accused Zuma of stealing.

“We do not recognise him as our president. He is not our president,” said Malema, before starting to chant “Zupta must fall.”

All the EFF MPs then stood up and joined Malema in chanting. As they left the chamber, one EFF MP shouted, “When we come back next time, you will not be our president.”

“Zupta” is a reference to Zuma’s relationship with the influential Gupta family.

5) The biggest surprise… is Cope

As Zuma began his speech, it was surprisingly an interjection by Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota that brought proceedings to a halt.

He said Zuma had admitted in the Constitutional Court that he had broken his oath of office.

“Zuma broke his oath of office and is no longer honourable. We can’t listen to someone who has broken his oath.

“He is no longer fit to lead our people.”

He and the other Cope MPs left the House.

6) What disruptions?

As soon as the disruptions were over, Zuma characteristically carried on with his speech as though nothing had happened.

7) The “real” State of the Nation?

After the EFF members left the National Assembly, Malema gave what he called the “real” State of the Nation Address to the media outside.

“So this is a man who has not put the interests of South Africa first. This is a man who has not protected the Constitution. This is a man who has said the ANC comes first, not the country.

“But we had to go inside and say that, to us, he doesn’t exist and we will never respect him. This man who is speaking here is the same who has said that he has breached the oath of office,” Malema said, pointing to Zuma on the screen in the parliamentary precinct.

8) Which finance minister?

As Zuma mentioned the finance minister in his address, several Democratic Alliance MP’s shouted “which one?”

This was in reference to Zuma’s axing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December last year, and replacing him with relatively unknown ANC member and former Merafong mayor Des van Rooyen.

Following public outrage and the rand falling to new lows against the dollar, Zuma replaced Van Rooyen with former finance minister Pravin Gordhan several days later.

9) Did you tell Dudu?

As Zuma mentioned state-owned enterprises in his address, and turned his attention to South African Airways, an opposition MP shouted: “Did you tell Dudu?”

The name of SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, who is also the chair of Jacob Zuma Foundation, was brought up several times following Nene’s axing. There had been speculation that his decision to turn down an SAA board proposal to restructure a re-fleeting agreement with Airbus was the reason he was dismissed.

10) Zuma’s resignation?

As Zuma was about to mention several points on what could be done to rescue the economy, several DA MPs shouted: “Your resignation”.

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