Yadhana Jadoo
3 minute read
15 Feb 2017
7:01 am

EFF, Cope Sona boycott ‘let ANC off the hook’ – analysts

Yadhana Jadoo

Analysts said the boycott, together with the DA's walkout, diminished the significance of Sona and showed how the wheels had come off in parliament.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema speaks to journalists after being ordered to leave the parliamentary chamber during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address in Cape Town, February 11, 2016. South Africa's radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party walked out of President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address after repeatedly interrupting his speech in chaotic parliamentary scenes. / AFP / POOL / Sumaya Hisham

The EFF and Cope’s boycott of the state of the nation debate in parliament has “created a sterile atmosphere”, within the house, allowing for the ANC to be let “off the hook”, according to political analysts.

“The fact that the EFF and Cope boycotted the debate is of concern because the majority left in parliament is the ruling party,” analyst Shadrack Gutto said.

“It diminishes the significance of Sona and shows that in parliament the wheels have come off.”

President Jacob Zuma last week delivered his state of the nation address (Sona) once again to seatless chairs of opposition MPs, following a violent removal of the EFF and a walkout by the DA.

READ MORE: It was the state against the nation at Sona, says Maimane

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, however, was in the National Assembly on Tuesday along with party MPs, where he delivered a charging address against Zuma.

“The ANC has turned from liberator of the people to the enemy of the people,” Maimane said.

“Long before we entered the chamber, it was clear that this government wasn’t on the same side as the people. Streets were closed off and barricaded for miles around this precinct.

“There were riot police and razor wire on every corner. There were snipers on the rooftops. There were soldiers with automatic rifles pacing up and down Parliament Avenue. This wasn’t the state of the nation. It was the state against the nation.

“The ANC on the one side and the people on the other … The liberator turned oppressor.”

While this may have been one of Maimane’s “better performances”, said analyst Daniel Silke, the debate had “lacked the sparks” which is “indicative of excitement the EFF brings to the National Assembly”.

“In relation to the sparks that flew on the evening of Sona – in this debate – unfortunately the withdrawal of EFF and Cope created a sterile atmosphere,” Silke said.

“Their failure doesn’t really help further their own message and it let the ANC off the hook.

READ MORE: ‘White monopoly capital’ scapegoat for failed leadership – Buthelezi

Without the EFF, the DA looks sluggish in parliament, and “there is not much left of anyone else”, he added.

“The EFF’s participation was missing, but they would not have gained any benefits from participating.”

Gutto said in calling the debate a “low-level” one, the DA “basically focuses on the failure of parliament to take action against Zuma, and if not impeachment – punishment” for a Concourt ruling that Zuma had defied the constitution by not adhering to a public protector report into upgrades on his Nkandla homestead.

“The challenge we have here is a constitution that Jacob Zuma does not want to breathe life into – or build as a rule of law in the country,” he said.

“It’s something that ought to concern all South Africans and not just MPs – to hold the executive accountable.”

Silke added that the debate content from the ANC was “uninspiring and there has been little concrete fleshing out from ANC policy”.

“It’s a trend of the ANC unable to buckle down its own way forward – there is no cohesive view.”

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