Julius Malema's warning to Ramaphosa

The EFF leader's speech in the debate on the President's SONA, 25 June 2019

Speech by EFF leader Julius Malema in the debate on President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address 2019 (II), Parliament, 25 June 2019

Mr J S MALEMA: Hon Speaker and Chair of the NCOP, Comrade President, let me also salute the red benches of the EFF 53 battalion led by the EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu and secretary-general Godrich Gardee.

Fellow South Africans, we want to first send our deepest condolences to the families that lost their loved ones in an accident that claimed 24 young lives in Limpopo.

Sepedi: 11:02

A meoya ya bona e robale ka khutšo.


We stand here to express our revolutionary gratitude to more than 1,8 million voters. At their centre are the security guards, domestic workers, farmworkers and mineworkers, petrol attendants, the youth, professionals, students and others who voted for the EFF. You have not wasted your votes. We heard your cries and are here to champion your interest without failure.

We vow to you that we shall never cease to ensure that Parliament remains a House with teeth that bite, particularly at incompetent, mediocre and corrupt fat cats who are permanently sleeping on duty and only wake up on pay day or on the day of stealing.

As expected, we are starting today to hold the executive accountable. We have been convened here for the whole week to debate what was supposed to be the state of the nation address by the newly elected President – a man who held the ambition to be president for almost three decades.

Indeed, this is our duty except that in this case, we really have no state of the nation address to debate. What we have is a misguided, incoherent, contradictory and proven to be futile ideas mixed in a bag of fantasies.

For a man to be hyped up by the entire local and international media, only to pitch up extremely low, is tragic. We were abused here during the election campaign that saw people like Oprah Winfrey rented and sneaked into the country in the name of the global citizen festival to come and tell us how Madiba wanted you, Mr President, to be president.

After your speech, we now ask ourselves as to what did Madiba see in you which we can’t see? [Laughter.] Your speech didn’t inspire confidence and hope amongst the poor, young and old people of South Africa.

Your own benches here were not moved at all; hence they couldn’t even sing a song in salutation of your tired speech, like they normally do when they feel revived. They didn’t hear umkhombandlela [direction giving]. They didn’t know and still don’t know what is expected of them from your speech.

You didn’t recover any of the lost votes. If anything, those who voted for you are now regretting because they wasted their votes on a President without a plan [Applause.]

You have no new ideas on how to break the country out of a colonial and apartheid legacy of underdevelopment, poverty, landlessness and unemployment. You don’t know how the collapsed health system which led to dysfunctional hospitals is going to be fixed. The schools have become war zones with teachers and learners living in permanent fear because they were failed by their own government.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, is not buying study materials, paying rent and fees for the students yet the fat salaries of senior managers are paid monthly without fail. No one knows as to how this problem is going to be resolved.

Mr President, you couldn’t provide us with a solid vision with regard to the continent. You couldn’t speak to the African continent despite the ongoing massacre in Sudan, instability in Libya, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe which led to huge unemployment and currency crisis, rightwing terrorism in Kenya and the ongoing occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

You couldn’t render a message of solidarity and hope to the Palestinian people who live under apartheid Israel and the people of Venezuela who are fighting against imperialism.

You failed to tell us what is it that you would do differently from how the ANC has handled the economy over the past 25 years. The central tenants of your message remained trapped in the neoliberal conception of development that has failed to work in South Africa and the whole continent.

You were not even brave enough to repeat the manifesto promises that you made across the country during the campaign for elections; amongst these, is an urgent question of land expropriation without compensation. [Applause.] Somehow, your speech was limited to four points: fighting corruption, fighting crime, asking black people to pay electricity and getting 10-year-olds to read to understand.

Beyond these, it was confusion about jobs to be created. At one point it was 155 000 jobs in the next five years, and then it was 2 million jobs in 10 years. Yet the National Development Plan, NDP, speaks of a different target – 10 million jobs by 2030.

In addition, your own Job Summit facilitated agreements with private business to hold back on retrenchments and help create over 200 000 jobs. Capital is not only creating any jobs but doing the opposite – retrenching workers, demonstrating that you are not this captain of industry you are portrayed to be. Your influence and command on private capital is over exaggerated.

This entire confusion explains why the President resorts to fantasizing. So, after being stuck for four hours in a train in Soshanguve, the billionaire President was so traumatised that he now fantasizes about a bullet train from Messina to Cape Town [Laughter.] Before the much complicated bullet train, Mr President, you need to get the Soshanguve train to work and take people to work on time. [Applause.]

Comrade President, when you got stuck in a train, we were excited that now the President knows the reality that our people are subjected to. You come here and said nothing about that experience. Since you have seen it with your own naked eyes, you never told us that this is the plan on how you are going to fix train problems in South Africa.

You said nothing about transport to a point where your Minister of Transport became so frustrated and had to quote you on your bullet train dream because he couldn’t find anything relating to transport in your speech. [Applause.]

The most tragic is the ignorance and disrespect shown to the conference resolutions of your own organisation simply because you personally do not agree with them. Mr President, we urge you to recall that conference resolutions are binding. Even Nelson Mandela with famous and world celebrated stature still recognised them as the mandate from the membership which must be implemented.

Let us remind you that on page 31, resolution 15 under the economic transformation section ... [Interjections.] ... it reads: expropriation of land without compensation should be amongst the key mechanisms available to government to give effect to land reform and redistribution. [Applause.] On page 32 of your own resolutions, resolution 29 of the economic transformation section reads: it is however a historical anomaly that there are private shareholders of the Reserve Bank. Conference resolves that the Reserve Bank should be 100% owned by the state. [Applause.]

This is the same document which includes the election outcomes of the leadership including your own election as the president, which shows that the election of leaders is as important as resolutions on policy.

We were taught as young leaders in the youth league by Kgalema Motlanthe that we must respect our own decisions or risk rendering the collective structure that took them irrelevant. He also taught us of the necessity we have to translate conference resolution into a programme of action. But the document in your own organisation called “the Eye of the Needle” - a document about the calibre of leaders that must lead a movement; we are told; once a decision has been taken on the basis of the majority views, it binds everyone, including those who held a contrary view.

You will therefore recall that as a result of this principle; Chris Hani was angry at a decision to suspend the arm struggle. Once a resolution was affirmed by the higher structure, it was binding. He had to go around the country and explain it to others as if it was his own view. [Applause.]

Mr President, in the 2018 state of the nation address, you came here and said, guided by the resolution of the 54th national conference of the governing party, the approach to the land reform will include expropriation of land without compensation. In January, this year, you repeated and said; we will support the work of the Constitutional Review Committee tasked with the review of section 25 of the Constitution to set a provision of expropriation of land without compensation.

Now that you have been elected, you have turned your back on the promises you made to the electorate ... [Applause.] ... because you undermine our people like that. Last week, you have completely retreated on expropriation of land without compensation and nationalisation of the Reserve Bank.

Let us warn you; if you do not respect the resolution of your own conference, imagine what message you are sending to those who did not want you to be the President. You are saying to them that the decision or the outcome of you being elected as a President is not binding since all other decisions taken in the same conference are not binding. [Applause.]

What is the state of our country today, Mr President? Unemployment which has reached a new high level of 27,6%; meaning that over 9,9 million young people are unemployed in South Africa. We must create jobs because when you say that you are going to create 2 million jobs in 10 years, you are almost saying to more than 7 million young people that you are not going to get jobs for the next 10 years. That is why you are saying 2 million.

An honest President would have said, even if you elected me, the seven million of you will not get jobs because I have no plan to create jobs.

Comrade President, it must be made clear that the crisis in Higher Education will not be resolved, particularly under the new leadership of the Department of Higher Education. It has no capacity. It has demonstrated before that it doesn’t have the interest of the black child at heart.

Let us warn you that this free education you have promised our people is not being delivered. There are no proper libraries. Our children are not receiving learning materials because NSfas doesn’t have the capacity to give those children. No access to food and accommodation and that is what constitute the life of our children today.

Comrade President, we don’t need an amper [almost] free education. We need a real free education ... [Applause.] ... where there will be no registration fee; where all children who qualify to get a seat at tertiary level will only be required to produce their matric results, earning them a seat at that level.

We must make it very clear, Mr President, that the issue of resolving inequality is not going to happen in South Africa if we do not resolve the land question. We must, therefore, warn you that if you do not expropriate land without compensation and return it to its rightful owners, the democratic project remains in permanent threat. Our people are going to engage in an unled revolution because they will be fighting for what rightfully belongs to them.

We sat here and warned the ANC that we cannot use the land question to encourage people to vote for us. It is an emotive issue and when we speak about it, we must mean it and not what you did to the electorate.

We will never resolve the social ills in our society if we do not resolve the land question. If we do not change the patterns of property ownership in South Africa, white people will continue to think that they are superior because they own the means of production. [Applause.] We make no apology and neither are we ashamed to repeat the call that the land must be expropriated for equal redistribution.

The first and the most practical step towards creating quality life for our people is by giving them the land. We must not retreat in our endeavour to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

Mr President, we will not win a fight against corruption if the President is involved in allegations of money laundering. We want the President to come clean, to explain and take the country into confidence as to who are the people who donated money in the CR17 campaign and what do they stand to benefit? I am not even sure if your party policy allows that you must set up a fund to finance a campaign if you want to become this or that in your own party. We need the names, not leaked documents, Mr President. You ought to call all these trustees and ask them to give you a report of who donated money and what are the expectations of those people.

We don’t have an intention, none whatsoever, to remove you as the President because your people have elected you democratically but if you’re going to come across as being a constitutional delinquent, we will be left with no option but to engage in an impeachment process.

We want you, President, to take full responsibility where a mistake was committed and announce which practical steps you are going to take in correcting those mistakes. We don’t see anyone in your party, if you were to be removed tomorrow, who can replace you; otherwise we will all be in a disaster. [Applause.] We are in a disaster now; we don’t want to be in a worse disaster. [Laughter.] Please, help South Africa by taking it in your confidence.

Make sure that you lead by example. You are a human being. You will commit mistakes. Where you have committed a mistake, you must come out and confess and say South Africans will decide my fate. Don’t be the most dishonest person beyond the one who came before you. We thought we were in a worse situation; we don’t want to be in an even worse situation than we were before. We want a President that is ethical, honest and a President that opens up and say; how do we fix this mistake which was committed in my name?

President, we must tell you that people are poverty stricken now, people unemployed now, people are landless now, people are being raped now and crime is too high now. They are not dreaming about it. That is the reality of their lives. Stop dreaming! Implement programmes that are going to change their lives. How can an ordinary man walk into a shop holding a R100 note in his pocket, with the power to buy a cool drink; arrive at the counter and say to the shopkeeper; I dream of buying cool drink when you have the power to buy a cool drink. [Laughter.] You have no luxury to dream; you are a President. You are an implementer. You have the power to make things happen.

You want a bullet train. Stop dreaming. Announce how you are going to do it. If you don’t know, ask Paul Mashatile; he spoke about monorail at some point in Gauteng and demonstrated how it can be done from Johannesburg to Soweto. We were still traumatised by Gautrain and said we don’t want monorail. You come here worse than Paul Mashatile and just say bullet train from here to there and don’t tell us how it is going to be done.

You want to create a city. Stop dreaming. Tell us about the land where you want to create a city, how long will it take you, how much you need to create the city? You have the power to do so.

You have the power to fight corruption. Don’t be scared of corrupt individuals, they will not remove you. You are a President now. Don’t worry whether you’ll come back or not. Take a decision now. You have the power to take a decision. Stop dreaming about taking decisions when you have the power to take decisions.

When you appointed hon Pravin against the Public Protector’s report, you took your powers away because you said his review suspends the remedial action. You can’t even remove a Deputy Minister from now onwards. If the Public Protector says these are the remedial actions against a Deputy Minister; that Deputy Minister will lodge a review of that remedial action. You will be stuck with a corrupt Deputy Minister because Pravin made it difficult for you to be a President. Stop dreaming. Take a decision. Wake up! [Interjections.]

Source: Unrevised transcript, Hansard.