Whoever watched the State of the Nation Address and the first joint sitting of Parliament and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) yesterday probably shared my first impression: Utter Disbelief combined with Shame what has become of our Legislative!
It started with a jamming device being detected that was installed to block the use of any cellphone, first violation of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. This was followed by a variety of calls from the EFF to be heard as a matter of Privilege to have Jacob Zuma confirm the date on which he pays back the embezzled Nkandla Funds as directed by the Public Protector last year. A “Madame Speaker”, Baleka Mbete, who was clearly out of her depth as well as the Chairperson for the NCOP, Thandi Modise, who tried to call at least her members of the NCOP to order and to their seats after the DA joined the EFF with their calls for answers. The questions were not met with answers but with force as Mbete called for armed assistance and a mysterious police force in white shirts appeared in Parliament and forcefully removed members of the EFF, 7 members of parliament got injured.
The DA quickly picked up on this further violation of the Constitution as armed police is not allowed, this is a privilege of the parliamentary security. Their request for clarification was ignored by the chairpersons and the DA as well as the UDM, led by Banthu Holomisa, left the joint sitting. Mangosuthu Buthelezi took the opportunity to address the Chairs to be reasonable but was not heard either.
In short: The better part of the first hour showed how disrespectful the ruling party treats the Constitution and the Legislative as such. A blatant display of ignorance and incompetence combined with guerillia-attitude. The aftermath will see major consequences and hopefully the suspension and dismissal of those chairpersons of anyway dodgy reputation.
After the Parliament saw almost half of its seats empty the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was delivered by Jacob Zuma, his eighth but surely he reached the pinnacle of boredom by evading the problems of this country. Instead he was handing out awards to swimmers, pupils and social workers and felt really good when announcing the discontinuation of foreign land ownership. He was dreaming of a Nuclear Powerstation by 2023 obviously forgetting that this country cannot even build a simple coal-fired plant within a reasonable time frame as the prospective completion of Medupi and Kusile had just been postponed to 2019 and 2020 respectively. This news of the day was brought by the big JZ himself: ESKOM will now burn Gas instead of Diesel. Wow! A revelation that makes load-shedding going away in the blink of an eye.
Where the gas comes from? Who cares! Imports from our neighbours will have our trade deficit shaking again, JZ does not care. But local fracking is recommended and let’s destroy the Karoo, home of white farmers anyway, JZ does not care. He has reached a wonderful peak in his career: Absolutism, protected by bootlickers without Constitution and free to do whatever can harm this country as long as he stays where is: at the top!
The display of a shattering democracy yesterday leaves me speechless. A modern Constitution – envied by a lot of other countries – has been kicked with dirty (gum)boots and the proceedings as well as SONA portrayed an absolutistic rather than a democratic elected regime. Brutal force against the opposition, suppression of the right to information and free speech, defending top politicians lining their pocket with stolen money……doesn’t that remind you of something? Let’s not go there….there is hope that the President, the Speaker, the NCOP Chair and whoever authorised the installation of the Jamming Device will still face democratic consequences: suspension, impeachment, dismissal and jail time. I think that sound like the necessary order of the day!
In the meantime: I pray for mercy for our Democracy!