Standard of SONA debate shameful - ANC

Party says MPs disregarding President Zuma's address in favour of personal attacks and spurious claims


16 February 2016

The people of South Africa have a reason to be concerned or feel let down by the deteriorating standards of parliamentary debate amongst some opposition parties, particularly during today’s debate on President Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.

Instead of reflecting substantively on the President’s important progress report and crucial government priorities for this financial year, some of the parties have indulged in empty electioneering rhetoric, personal attacks, name-calling, and abusive un-parliamentary language. Historically, debates on the annual State of the Nation Address are festivals of ideas and exchange of superior rational arguments on key issues confronting the nation as highlighted by the sitting President.  

The debates enhanced Parliament’s prestige as a forum for consideration of matters of national importance, as provided for in the Constitution.  However, since 2014, with the arrival of the EFF, Parliament’s image has been desecrated through attention-seeking disruptions, profane posturing and downright disrespectful conduct to the institution, fellow parliamentarians and the public whose aspirations rest on the shoulders of the institution to better their living conditions. 

Those who derive pleasure or entertainment from such circus are guilty of myopia and have no interest on the future of our nation at heart.

President Zuma has presented to the nation one of the most important addresses of his presidency, full of hope, progressive interventions to address the socio-economic challenges confronting South Africa and key declarations of intent to advance our nation. It is a blatant dereliction of duty for some opposition MPs to disregard such important content in favour of personal attacks, spurious claims and shameless grandstanding.

The conduct of some opposition MPs is a flagrant abuse of parliamentary rules and our democracy. They deny the voices of the constituencies they claim to represent an opportunity to be heard in Parliament.

Statement issued by Zizi Kodwa, ANC national spokesperson, 16 February 2016