09/02/2017 16:21 SAST | Updated 10/02/2017 06:23 SAST

Sona 2017: Fisticuffs, The F-Bomb And Radical Economic Transformation

It took 78 minutes for President Jacob Zuma to start his State of the Nation Address. He was heckled, insulted and shouted down. It was a disaster.



And that, ladies and gents, is the end of the Starte of the Nation Address 2017.

Some concluding thoughts:

1. Tonight was an utter embarrassment for Jacob Zuma. He was badgered, shouted down and insulted and could only deliver his speech after 78 minutes.

2. He is a legitimately elected president, but he has no authority. He is utterly disrespected by opposition parties, while Parliament has been rendered disfunctional. It is a serious blight on our democracy and charge against our political leaders.

3. The EFF is a massive thorn in the ANC's side. Everything he says, stings, because he knows exactly what goes on in the ANC. Mmusi Maimane and the DA have now also thrown down the gauntlett to Zuma, who, as already mentioned, lost credibility.

4. Zuma did elaborate on what "radical economic transformation" entails, including the use of state muscle in procurement and changing laws and introducing new regulations to break open the economy.

You can read Zuma's full speech here.


Ferial Haffajee: "This is a very boring speech."



Who wrote the parts about the economy? Thoughts?


Just in, statement from the DA:

The ANC under Jacob Zuma has broken Parliament and the Constitution

by Mmusi Maimane - Leader of the Democratic Alliance

Date: 09 February 2017

Release: Immediate

The events which unfolded on the Parliamentary precinct this evening showed the nation that the ANC under Jacob Zuma has broken Parliament, broken the Constitution and broken our country.

The violence in Parliament tonight does nothing for the millions of South Africans still living in poverty, and without hope. They must be disheartened and appalled at the events of this evening.

The mission to remove the ANC and save our democracy is now more urgent than ever.

The violence and disorder witnessed this evening is the direct result of a corrupt political party clinging onto power by using fear tactics and intimidation.

The army and riot police were deployed to bully Members and journalists, pepper spray was used in the Parliamentary chamber, and Members of Parliament were physically assaulted and removed from the chamber.

Parliament ought to be a place where the public can engage with issues facing our nation. It is deplorable that ordinary members of the public were pepper sprayed while attending this evenings sitting.

But Jacob Zuma and his ANC planned this mayhem. Days before SONA, the Parliamentary precinct, the streets surrounding, and the inner city were swamped with thousands of police officers, riot police and the military.

We unequivocally condemn the deployment of the army and riot police inside the precinct of Parliament. We must now take legal action to ensure that security forces are never used in Parliament again. Tonight showed that such action is now essential.


More thoughts from Ferial Haffajee:

"I was amazed that the President delivered his speech as written before the calamitous events of the night. A good leader would have read the mood of a nation which had witnessed in real time a violent and disturbing night in the house of parliament.

"The speech was a progress report of projects, plans and policies largely announced in the previous three to five years. This is good in the sense that it tells you there is continuity. The President gave progress reports on the black industrialists programme and again stressed the need to close the racial wealth gap.

"The most important part of the speech is the President's definition of radical economic transformation, a term he has used more and more often. The President knitted a set of definitions around the term, the most important of which is legislation to prise open the economy which, in sectors like banking, media and construction, is dominated by four or five companies in each."




Ferial Haffajee: A Broken Parliament And A Giggling President Stripped Bare

Political humiliation, fury, violence and disruption marked the opening of Parliament. President Jacob Zuma is now the naked emperor.

Zuma started his State of the Nation address 78 minutes after he was meant to begin, after an unprecedented and violent night of disruption and violence. And he spoke, in a sense, to himself: the opposition benches were largely empty.

How does the president come back from this real-time humiliation beamed into millions of homes to complete his term, which ends in 2019?

The president was humiliated and nervous as he started speaking, clearly rattled. Then he giggled once, and twice again, laughing nervously at MPs who were coughing, possibly after they had caught some teargas fired near the National Assembly. The House of Parliament was broken and in pandemonium.

Read the rest of Ferial's analysis here.




Now turning to land, Zuma says not enough arrable land has been turned over to black farmers. Government is determined to expropriate land in line with the Constitution. He has however sent back legislation to Parliament designed to ease the transfer process because of constitutional queries. HE again resucitates the 50/50 ownership model.


Radical economic transformation, thus far:

- Break up monopolies

- Change laws, new regulations to ensure bigger black ownership of business

- Pursue direct state involvement in mining.


Zuma: "We want to see more black people owning factories."



The president saying government will change legislation, including competition laws, to open up the economy to black South Africans. He argues there are a few players in the market which dominate -- does this refer to the debate about "white monopoly capital"?


Zuma says government will use its leverage -- through government spend and regulation -- to drive transformation.


"Today we start a new chapter of radical socio-economic transformation."


"Skewed patterns of ownership and leadership must be corrected" Zuma says.


Zuma unpacks what "radical socio-economic transformation" means, according to the ANC. He explains poor people are by and large black, and describes the disparities between white and black households, based on information from StatsSA.

"Only 10% of the top 100 companies on the JSE are directly and principally owned by black South Africans. The pace of transformation in the workplace, implementation of affirmative action policies, as required by law, remains slow."



Zuma now getting to the centrepiece of his speech, saying that political freedom "means nothing withou economic emancipation," quoting former ANC President Oliver Tambo. "The wealth of the country must be returned to the people as a whole."


Ferial Haffajee: "How can he make a speech like this after what's happened? How can he be so tone-deaf?"


Huisgenoot Magazine reporting clashes between ANC and EFF supporters around the Grand Parade in Cape Town, bricks thrown.




WATCH: A video from HuffPost SA's Karabo Ngoepe about the brawl in the National Assembly.


DA Leader Mmusi Maimane explaining why they left the chamber:




Zuma talks about Tambo, about the nine-point plan to revitalise the economy, he refers to the country averting a credit ratings downgrade . . . nothing yet. But again: does it matter?



Zuma starts by referring to ANC President Oliver Tambo, talking about his legacy and his commitment to the party. "He would be disgusted," Ferial Haffajee says.




After 78 minutes, Zuma starts to speak. But does it matter anymore?




The DA stands up and leaves en-masse. Lots of shouting. One MP shouts in Zulu: "These dogs must get out!"


Ferial Haffajee: "This is unprecedented chaos, and the first time I have heard the F-word in Parliament. And then the big question: will Zuma speak tonight?"


Watch: EFF removed by the 'white shirts':


Ferial Haffajee: "This is terrifying."


Absolute pandemonium. Malema shouts "I don't care, you can kill me!" after Mbete called in the protection services to remove the EFF caucus. Various punches were thrown, hard-hats used to beat back the 'white shirts', but in the end the all EFF MP's were removed.



Verashni Pillay:

"We are abused by Zuma!" Malema spits back at Mbete's contention he is abusing the chamber. Then he gets you frighteningly personal. "He used you, and he dumped you." As one of our team said: That's the thing about Malema, he's out there with all the ANC's files.


ENCA showing pictures of public order policing units lining up outside of the National Assembly.



This is worrying:




Ferial Haffajee: "Zuma is being neutered in front of the nation."


Lekota has now left the chamber, and Cope's Willie Madisha has been removed by the Parliamentary Protection Services, the so-called 'white shirts'.




Ferial Haffajee: "Looks like the EFF is really owning the moment . . . they've spoken six times. They have called Zuma a constitutional delinquent, a criminal, a scoundrel and rotten to the core."


Verashni Pillay: "This is a massive embarrassment for the president, who has now for 40 minutes been prevented from addressing the National Assembly."




Ferial Haffajee, watching proceedings in the National Assembly, merely says: "Sjoe . . ."





This is building up to something. Zuma is continuing with his speech while the EFF is shouting him down.


Terror Lekota, Cope leader and former ANC chairperson, also jumping on Malema's bandwagon, saying that Zuma has broken his oath of office.

The ConCourt's Nkandla judgment was a big, big moment in our history.



Ferial adds: "It seems like the DA has changed its strategy . . . in previous years it chose not to take part in the disruptions, but this year they are taking part."


Ferial Haffajee: "This is now the third year in a row where proceedings have been interrupted. I think it has become a personal hell for the president, almost a no-go zone."



This might even be worse than previous years. Julius Malema, EFF leader, arguing that Zuma should not be allowed to speak in the National Assembly because he disrespected and violate the Constitution. He was very, very aggressive, shouting at Mbete and saying "Zuma is rotten to the core!"

Modise is trying to calm things down.

Zuma, sphinx-like, under pressure and under siege, is sitting at the podium.


Gardee is now objecting to Zuma addressing the National Assembly because the Constitutional Court and Parliament found that they both did not respect the Constitution during the Public Protector's investigation into Nkandla.



Godrich Gardee from the EFF stands to object, and continues with his remarks to the speaker, whilst the president just goes on. It's farcical.


The DA has now been overruled by Mbete, who says a moment of silence will be observed during the debate on SONA next week. She calls Zuma to the podium, and he obliges amidst cafreful applause.


HuffPost SA's offices, glued to the TV watching the initial disruption in Parliament, with the EFF cuationing at uncessary harrassment by security and the DA demanding a moment of silence for the Esidimeni 94.



John Steenhuizen, the DA's chief whip, wants to introduce a motion so that MP''s take a moment's silence in remembrance of the Esidimeni 94 . . . he struggled with the name, but still . . .


Are we surprised, Adriaan?


Immediately Floyd Shivambu. the EFF's chief whip, jumps to remind the Speaker of her duties as an impartial chairperson of the National Assembly. He tells the house there are extra police deployed in parliament that will target the EFF. He shows a black cable tie and says they will not be "victimised".


There are troops in the Parliamentary precinct, an issue which is sure to be controversial.


The EFF sitting quietly, awaiting their moment . . . what will it be? Will they object before Zuma even starts speaking?



From HuffPost SA's Karabo Ngoepe:

"Members of the Judiciary received a standing ovation as they made their way into the chamber."


Righto, mere minutes left before President Jacob Zuma delivers his 10th State of the Nation Address, where the theme of radical economic transformation is expected to take centre stage.

Three stories you need to read before Zuma takes to the podium:

Ferial Haffajee, editor-at-large, analyses the last five SONA speeches and asks what will be different this time.

Pieter du Toit, deputy editor, looks at radical economic transformation and tries to unpack exactly what it might mean.

Karabo Ngoepe, politics editor who will be reporting live from the National Assembly, explains just what might be in the offing tonight.


The Judiciary, led by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, has now entered the National Assembly chamber. The State of the Nation Address is an annual event where all three branches of state -- the executive, the legislature and the judiciary -- come together to deepen democracy and take stock of how far South Africa has travelled, and how far we still need to go.


From HuffPost SA's report Sarah Koopman outside the National Assembly:


Look what happened when a scuffle broke out between the police and ANC supporters:




We Don't Care If You Don't Like Zuma. You Have To Allow Him To Speak, Says The ANC

African National Congress (ANC) chief whip in Parliament Jackson Mthembu has urged opposition parties to behave when President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address on Thursday night.

Mthembu told The Huffington Post South Africa on Thursday that Zuma has a right to be in the National Assembly and those who fail to afford him the opportunity to carry out his duties should be disciplined in accordance with the rules.

"Whether you like the president or not, that's your business and we don't care. When you're in that Parliament, President Zuma is the president of the Republic. He has every right and every authority to come and address that Parliament as a person who needs to account to Parliament. He has every right and it's enshrined in the Constitution. If anybody wants to curtail that right, such a person must be dealt with in terms of the rules," he said.



The DA making sure they make a grand entrance, fromt he bottom of the red carpet slowly walking up to Poorthuis, where they will enter Parliament.


Karabo Ngoepe, HuffPost SA's man in the National Assembly, writes:

"MP's are slowly starting to enter the chamber ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address. Invited guests and dignitaries are starting to also trickle into the public gallery.

"Some MPs are busy taking pictures of their gorgeous attires. Hugs and kisses are flying everywhere with a little giggle and laughter in the background.

"Zuma's address tonight is expected to revolve around radical economic transformation, education and the national minimum wage just to mention a few."


Meanwhile, and given the white shirts from a couple of years back:







The ANC has indicated that "radical economic transformation" will be the main focus of the State of the Nation Address. We took to the streets of Johannesburg to ask South Africans: what does it mean?


Zuma Is Deploying Troops To Parliament During Sona, And We Should Be Worried

Pieter du Toit, HuffPost SA's Deputy Editor, writes: "South Africa, be afraid: this year's opening of Parliament might be the most militarised parliamentary event yet. Not even at the height of apartheid and the rule of P.W. Botha's securocrats, with the army engaged in Angola and ANC insurgents operating in townships, was parliament itself enveloped in such a heightened sense of security. The media will, for the first time in recent memory, be managed, chaperoned and boxed in, which will prevent it from reporting freely and accurately about what is sure to be an eventful evening."

Read the rest here.



Mpumelelo Mkhabela, from the University of Pretoria and a veteran political journalist writes on News24:

"Zuma's decision to deploy 441 soldiers in Parliament "to maintain law and order" came as a shock. Opposition parties are alarmed by this when no drastic decision was taken against him when he failed to fulfil his obligation to maintain the Constitution in the Nkandla matter. Only Zuma and his security advisors see a security threat that could undermine law and order during a joint sitting of a democratically elected Parliament.

"Calling in the SANDF is a graphic illustration of the real state of the nation according to Zuma. It is a state of the nation which, as he sees it, needs military, command-style leadership to fix; not the democratic-type order which by its very nature is noisy. The latter irritates Zuma. He feels abused."

Read the rest of his column here.




The DA's Parliamentary Caucus are seemingly having their own social before Zuma's speech.



From News24's James de Villiers:

"Protesters, some armed with sjamboks, are making their way through the city centre ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Some appear to be headed to the Grand Parade where the ANC is holding an event tying in with the SONA.

Others, with posters and signs, headed to the train station in Cape Town, bringing operations there to a halt.

Police officers at the scene appeared worried.

Earlier protesters, wearing ANC branded clothing, gathered in Adderley Street.

While EFF supporters gathered in nearby Church Street."

Concerned looking police officers at protestors in Train Station.









Dignitaries have started arriving at Poorthuis, the entrance to Parliament.


Jackson Mthembu Tells Us Just What Radical Economic Transformation Looks Like To The ANC

As the African National Congress (ANC) and government call for radical economic transformation, land remains a key element in attaining that goal. ANC chief whip of Parliament Jackson Mthembu said the land was needed to build the necessary industries that will drive that transformation. He further admitted that the current land restitution process has failed and that it is now time for change.

Read more here.





The EFF's populism seems to have swayed President Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma's ANC has never quite been able to reach consensus about the economy and policies needed to drive growth.

Shortly after Zuma's hodgepodge coalition evicted the so-called 1996 Class Project, with its macro-economics and tight rein on government spend, cartoonist Zapiro published a cartoon with Zuma standing over a truck (South Africa Inc) with two driver's seats looking in opposite directions, Pravin Gordhan (minister of finance) and Ebrahim Patel (minister of economic development) each behind a wheel.

"Hit it!" the president told his two economic ministers, from opposite ends of the scale of economic theory. Never the twain shall meet. And it never did.

Zuma's state of the nation address on Thursday will be heavy on rhetoric about radical economic transformation –- #RET as its doing the rounds on social media –- but light on detail.

Read more here.



HuffPost SA's editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee writes:

"The more the State of the Nation Address becomes a battle-site for President Jacob Zuma, the more halting and staccato his planning and delivery of it becomes.

"It is now like a Cabinet management checklist, where ministers throw their best work at the presidency, and the speechwriters stay up for nights and days, trying to pull together what inevitably ends up as a dog of a speech.

"It is difficult to read and to follow, with no core message or appeal to the heart or to give a sense of what impels the president. Watching him for each of his eight addresses, one gets the sense he enjoys it less and less these days as delays and disruptions become the order of the day."

Read Ferial's analysis of Zuma's previous SONA's here.