BY PAUL VECCHIATTO, 12 FEBRUARY 2015, 07:23
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address should be called the “state of the nonsense address” as his government has left a trail of hunger, poverty and misery for the overwhelming majority, say emerging left wing movement the United Front and its ally the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa).
On Wednesday United Front interim national secretary Mazibuko Jara delivered an alternative state of the nation address at a media briefing in Cape Town.
“The United Front has decided to put forward this alternative state of the nation address a day before President Jacob Zuma presents his misdiagnosis and tokenistic solutions. The official state of the nation address and the opening of Parliament have become a naked display of power and unashamed greed for the elite,” Mr Jara said.
Numsa deputy secretary-general Karl Cloete remarked on the sidelines: “Let’s see what will happen with the state of the nonsense.”
Mr Zuma will deliver his address at 7pm on Thursday with all the pomp and ceremony Parliament can muster. He is expected to talk about his government’s successes, plans to deal with the electricity crisis and the nuclear build programme, and to hint at what may be in Finance Minster Nhlanhla Nene’s budget, which will be delivered on February 25.
Hanging over the proceedings is a threat by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that Mr Zuma will not be allowed to proceed with his address until he answers questions about when he will pay back the money spent on the R246m security upgrades to his Nkandla residence.
Security has been tightened around the Parliamentary precinct, with the South African Police Service’s Public Order Policing unit members receiving a briefing on Tuesday on what to do should the address be disrupted.
EFF MP and spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party would raise a point of order with National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, which she must allow in terms of the rules. If Ms Mbete refused, then the party would raise another point of order about that.
“We do see the deployment of the riot police near the (National) Assembly as an intimidatory (sic) tactic. But we will not be intimidated and will press ahead with our plans,” Mr Ndlozi said.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) marched on Parliament on Wednesday as part of the “power to the people” campaign party Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane has been leading for the last week.
DA leader Helen Zille accused the African National Congress (ANC) government of taking control of important institutions. “The ANC faction led by Jacob Zuma will defeat justice by capturing every single institution with the power to expose and prosecute corruption, before these very institutions take them down in a court of law,” she said.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union has decided to withdrew its members who are Parliamentary employees from participating in the events around the state of the nation address.
Talks between the union and Parliament’s management on Wednesday failed to agree on improved conditions of service demands.