16. February 2015

Opposition parties want Mbete removed as speaker

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete will be in another precarious position for the debate on the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Tuesday as opposition parties put pressure on her not to preside over the debate and more so, be removed.  The call for Mbete’s removal is an old one but follows Mbete’s calling in of security officials to remove Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPS during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nationa address (Sona), and subsequently calling EFF leader Julius Malema a “cockroach” in her capacity as ANC national chairperson.  Malema said they will turn to the judiciary urgently to have Mbete removed.  “We agree that Baleka must be removed … She can no longer stay there,” he said. Malema said as long as Mbete would be in the seat of speaker, Parliament would be in disarray.  The DA has written to Mbete, National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise and Parliament’s powers and privileges committee calling for Mbete to be investigated and sanctioned. The party said they are taking legal counsel on whether to ask the courts to remove Mbete. But at the same time opposition parties agree that the debate ought to be used to give a true version of the state of the nation. 

DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said his party was more concerned with what Zuma didn’t say in his address than what was said.  “He did not speak about institutional demise. And a lot of state institutions have suffered under his watch. There was a lot that was not said,” he said.  Maimane said the DA does not agree with Zuma’s approach in dealing with the energy crises and was concerned about the President’s silence on education. Maimane noted that he will unpack in great detail Zuma’s nine-point plan to ignite growth and create jobs. “We will unpack the dynamics around it because we don’t agree with those issues,” he said. 

Zuma said that the South African economy needs a “push forward”. He committed to resolving the energy challenge, revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain, advancing beneficiation, implementing the Industrial Policy Action Plan, encouraging private sector investment and moderating workplace conflict.
Furthermore, Zuma pledged to assist small business, state reform and boosting the role of state owned companies, ICT infrastructure or broadband roll out, water, sanitation and transport infrastructure as well as Operation Phakisa aimed at growing the ocean economy and other sectors.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the focus of his input in the debate was the “state of the faltering economy”. “Also, we think the threat to security is important. Actually there is no security in this country,” he said.  Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said he will raise concerns over the “complete nullification of our democracy”. “I will raise concerns over violations of the constitution, laws and rules,” he said. (Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)

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