February is such a blur that if you have to give it a parliamentary recall you might highlight the EFF ejection, signal jamming or the broken man. However we should not move too hastily to forget February 2015.
On the programme time line we had the state of the nation address; the reply to the address; the budget debate and then a vote of no confidence against President Zuma. The fans of channel 408 had lots to watch.The month could have even been called Big Brother month, however, signal jamming and camera jamming limited the full state of affairs.
The worlds worst secret was that security were training for a possible “internal threat” evacuation. Removing members from within the house. Therefore that part of the evening could not be a surprise to anyone.
In our opinion, based on the revalations in the past few months, we would be wearing black. I do not think I need to go into what we were mourning but to us there was no red carpet celebrations in fact we still questioned how we could be spending so much on any celebrations.
The words still fresh in my mind, from the President’s previous radio broadcast, “I am not nervous, I have never been nervous in my life.”
The President took to the podium, having just come through a public barrage of protest around someone jamming the signal, and without a sent of nerves began his state of the nation. Broadcast to more than just the interested folk, tonight had many people watching for the entertainment factor. They were cheated. The EFF disruption was swift. Security people, maybe even police, maybe even armed, stormed the chambers, with scant regard for the separation of powers and did what they had been training to do. They ejected the EFF. The DA tried to restore calm and dignity to the house and requested information. Information was not forthcoming as with the signal jamming incident and therefore a serious decision was taken to walk out. Other opposition parties joined us in the same vein of protest. The President continued. Again with no emotion. I would not be surprised if he gave one of those trademark giggles.
The very same giggle he gave when leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane told him that he was a broken man, presiding over a broken Parliament in a breaking society.
The President replied with the preverbial olive branch. Deflecting all blame and responsibility with the perfect cover drive. Leaving a stain on the image of South-Africa for all to see. However not without his trademark giggle.
The budget debate could be described as dry and bitter. Nothing innovative and nothing memorable. If you are rich you might feel a little more milked and if you are poor you might believe that the Minister was more interested in getting your vote than stimulating an economy. Many options lay open to the Minister. Ideas such as an increase in VAT or a sin-tax on fast foods would have given a bit more gravy to the occasion. Benchmarked against other sub-saharan African countries, I would offer that our projected growth rate was also dull.
This week in the house was interesting if you looked beyond the hot air and rhetoric. MP David Maynier called on minister of state security David Mahlobo to resign. In my opinion, the answers given by the minister, was living proof that he was out of his depth. The minister first indicated that he would not be able to answer when he tried the “sub judice” excuse. Then it seemed that the Minister was quoting the wrong legislation and finally he said that he was not aware of the signal jamming device. The President chooses his executive and this choice is a reflection on his own judgement.
The final interesting debate of the week was the “vote of no confidence against President Zuma”. I have always believed that the ANC welcome these motions because it galvanises the caucus behind the targetted politician. At this stage there are many opinions and the ANC do not enjoy a fully united caucus but when it comes to this type of motion, they all stand together. I was proven right when the motion was withdrawn. The theatrics from the ANC and the lack of control of the situation, showed me I was correct. If you are serious about the motion you would welcome the dropping of such a motion if it was against your number one. However in this instance it seemed like the lights had been switched off from a well rehearsed show that was just about to start.
Given the summary of the last few weeks, I would believe that we are bringing an unwelcome and unneccessary image upon our Parliament and our politicians. It seems the executive are becoming more evasive and defensive in their replies. There is more politics and less delivery which is sad because I believe if the executive were more productive and more intent on making a positive change to their portfolio there would be less politics. However it seems like they have been elected to protect one man and that their productivity is judged on how well they do that job. Everything else becomes secondary and everyone else becomes a lesser priority. It is almost like the next five years will be dedicated to ensuring a smooth landing for Number 1 and rallying around him to protect him. Any character assassinations; counter ideas; debating of their proposals are all seen as attacks and not constructive input.
Number 1 the fearless, charismatic and persuasive has charmed his executive. He has charmed many of the public institutions and where he has not, they have surprisingly had scandals and the heads of these institutions have been replaced with what we call members of Zuma Inc. No magic here, just plain determination. A determination to control everything that needs to be controlled. A determination to introduce the national democratic revolution and a determination to protect one man and his space at all costs.
South-Africans will come to appreciate that they cannot rely on their executive if they carry on this trajectory but I hope the executive realise that they cannot disregard the South-Africans. The repercussions could be more costly than the cost of protecting just one man. Giggles the President…