The interim leader of the DA, John Steenhuisen, has blasted President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address (Sona), describing it as a “defining moment” which he allowed to “slip away”.
“You had all the cards honourable president, and then you went and blew it. You let us down,” remarked Steenhuisen.
MPs are currently debating the president’s Sona which was delivered last week.
Steenhuisen accused Ramaphosa of consistently choosing the ANC over the country, saying he should use his reply to the debate as an opportunity to redeem himself.
“You are not the reformer South Africa thought you are. You don’t have the guts to make the tough choices our country needs. You are not brave enough to take on the unions that hold this country to ransom.”
Steenhuisen recalled the spirit of hope, which he said had engulfed the country when Ramaphosa became president in 2018, saying it had since resulted in dying industries, failed municipalities, a million more people becoming unemployed, a slowdown of direct foreign investment and tax revenues decreasing, with crime increasing.
“I am not going to stand here and say this happened on your watch, Mr President … that would be far too kind, it didn’t just happen on your watch, it happened by your own hand.”
He accused the president of not being the reformer South Africans expected him to be, adding he did not have the necessary guts to make tough choices needed by the country nor brave enough to keep the ANC’s allies at bay.
“That’s why, instead of a new dawn, there’s a new despair,” continued Steenhuisen who said Ramaphosa lacked the courage to deal decisively with corruption.
He even questioned the presence of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede who is currently facing numerous charges of corruption.
“While you were telling us how you’ve acted decisively against state capture, the beneficiaries of state capture, some of them chairs of portfolio committees, sat in these very benches,” remarked Steenhuisen.
He told the National Assembly the DA had recently learned from a document sent from parliament to the committee on public service that there would be no arrests or prosecutions this year.
Steenhuisen also hit out at the president for failing to do away with cadre deployment since coming to power, warning his vision of building a capable state would not come to be if the “politically connected feeding trough” remained opened.
He said ANC policy was at the heart of what was wrong with the government.
Steenhuisen, however, added there were some good proposals in the president’s Sona.
He said these included adding grid capacity from renewable energy, allowing commercial and industrial users to produce their own electricity, and expediting their applications.
Steenhuisen added that letting municipalities procure their own power directly from producers was “a very good idea”.
“But here’s the thing: You can’t claim these as your ideas. The DA has been offering you these solutions for years, and you’ve now left it way too late.”