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Drama in South Africa’s Parliament When President Zuma Addresses Nation

Updated on February 12, 2017

Houses of Parliament, Cape Town

Neoclassical and Cape Dutch architecture
Neoclassical and Cape Dutch architecture | Source

National Assembly, Cape Town, South Africa


The most notorious event of the past week in South Africa was President Zuma’s annual State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on Thursday, February 9th.

In order to prevent a repeat of previous years' violent clashes outside parliament, President Zuma deployed 6,600 police officers and 440 soldiers.

Opposition parties and critics objected to this heavy, intimidating security, and especially to the presence of soldiers.

"The DA will not stand by and allow for the 'people's parliament' to be turned into a security-state show of force, meant to intimidate opposition both inside and outside of the ANC," said the leader of the DA.

"We know for sure that this initiative by Mr Zuma is done to intimidate the media and the EFF,” said the spokesman of the EFF. "He now hopes to use SANDF (SA's military) to suppress opposition to his illegitimacy as a constitutional delinquent!"

"It is only in a state of emergency or a war that you deploy soldiers on civilians," complained opposition party COPE.

South African Defence Force (SANDF) at (SONA) on February 08, 2017, Cape Town  South Africa. Photo: Beeld / Jaco Marais
South African Defence Force (SANDF) at (SONA) on February 08, 2017, Cape Town South Africa. Photo: Beeld / Jaco Marais | Source

These unarmed 'white shirts' are supposed to protect members of parliament against each other -

Parliament's special security police (bouncers) tasked to protect dignitaries INSIDE the House against each other - only on order of the Speaker
Parliament's special security police (bouncers) tasked to protect dignitaries INSIDE the House against each other - only on order of the Speaker

Dignitaries arrived lavishly dressed for the occasion

While protesters kept the police and soldiers busy, dignitaries made their way down the red carpet.

Ceremonial elegance and splendour

Pomp and ceremony were provided by the National Ceremonial Guard, the SA Military Health Service Band, and the Cape Field Artillery. The latter conducted a 21-round gun salute and salute flight simultaneously.

National Ceremonial Guard
National Ceremonial Guard
National Ceremonial Guard
National Ceremonial Guard
SA Military Health Service Band
SA Military Health Service Band
The president arrives
The president arrives
Gun salute while band plays the National Anthem
Gun salute while band plays the National Anthem
President, Deputy President, Speaker, Assistant Speaker, and spouses
President, Deputy President, Speaker, Assistant Speaker, and spouses

A song of praise for the president

According to African tradition, a praise singer was selected to praise the president. For SoNA 2017, the honor was bestowed on 11-year-old Given Lubisi. Praise singing is a gift from God, said Given's father, who is a praise singer himself.

However, while the boy praised the president, the EFF opposition party led by Julius Malema, shouted, "Tsotsi, tsotsi, tsotsi, tsotsi...". Translated into English, "Thief, thief, thief..."

Negative comments about the praise singer -

Madi&*#tsha: "... that boy was annoying........Zuma is not King, but President, such things do not have a place in parliament...."

TheRealMidnite: "There's nothing "adorable" about political elites flaunting their obscene egos in South África's face - whether it be with a display of militaristic intimidation or a prattling 12-year old sycophant."

Selected praise singer, 11-year old Given Lubisi
Selected praise singer, 11-year old Given Lubisi | Source

And now for another fiasco in South Africa's Parliament

Of course, South Africans expected to see the umpteenth debacle in Parliament, as the blunt revolutionary left-wing opposition party – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), as well as the second largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and, in fact, all opposition parties, had developed an intense aversion to President Zuma and the leading African National Congress (ANC) party.


1. Since April 2016, President Zuma and his cadres are ignoring a High Court ruling that the dropping of 783 charges of corruption, fraud, and money-laundering against him was ‘irrational’, and that they should be reviewed and set aside. These charges were dropped in April 2009 in order to allow Zuma to be elected as president of South Africa.

2. The State Capture Report that was published by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in October 2016, relating to allegations that the Gupta family influenced President Zuma in his decisions to remove and appoint ministers and directors of state-owned entities - unethical conduct that caused the rewarding of state contracts and benefits to the Guptas and possible kickbacks to all involved state officials - is still unresolved. Remedial action that was set out in the report - that the President to appoint, within 30 days, a commission of inquiry headed by a judge solely selected by the Chief Justice who shall provide one name to the President - has been ignored by the president until December when the DA filed papers in the Constitutional Court to seek a declaratory order that the president has violated his constitutional obligations in not giving effect to the remedial action. The president then finally approached the High Court to review the remedial action. In his affidavit he states that the action “violates the rule of law that it is inconsistent with the Constitution and breaches the separation of powers principle”.

3. Although President Zuma has paid back the tax-payers’ money he had used for non-security upgrades to his private Nkandla home, the damning judgement of the Constitutional Court - that he failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land - was in fact a confirmation that he is a constitutional delinquent. Opposition parties therefore want the ANC to replace him.

4. Numerous callings for Jacob Zuma to step down are being ignored. Members of the ANC, who are a majority of 62.25%, supported him during seven motions of no confidence since he became president in 2008.

5. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker are both members of the ANC. Their bias rulings in favor of the President and the ANC infuriate members of the opposition parties.

Above reasons and some others seem to be the reason of SA's Parliament's deterioration into something between a circus, a comedy show and a horror.

See for yourself....

Opposition party, COPE.. on a point of order

The DA walks out...

Did you hear that?

Did you hear the members of South Africa's leading party shouting insults at their opposition?

Yip, all that shouting and cussing in the background came from the honorable members of the ANC.

President Zuma enjoys debacles in Parliament. Making a mockery of his opposition's issues seems to be one of his most noteworthy talents.

See and hear him laugh, and get an idea why members of opposition parties don't recognize him as SA's legitimate president.

President Zuma finally addressed the nation

Published on South Africa's Government website is President Zuma's speech. Loaded with promises, it could easily be seen as the end for some and the beginning for others.

The next election will be in 2019.


Opinion of an owfma-sa

An orchestra is as good as his conductor, and a country is as good as his president.

What more can I say?

I am counting my blessings daily while looking forward to the end of post-Apartheid challenges and the beginning of a true democratic South Africa.

After all, I am an owfma-sa (ordinary white female middle-aged South African), and like everyone else, I am harvesting the seed that was sown by previous generations.

Sowing seeds of love and compassion is my daily challenge. I deliberately use the word 'challenge', as the climate in South Africa makes the sowing of 'positive seed' almost impossible.

Fortunately, perseverance will be rewarded.

Let's contemplate the message of this song!


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    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      Dear fpherj48 – Whatever happens in South Africa doesn’t affect the USA, and this is the only reason why you seldom of ever hear about us. To confirm your last paragraph: Any intellectual who is interested in the future of our world, has a natural need to know what’s going on all over the world. Like people living in the same street, we need to know with whom we share the street. The intention is not to intrude, or to make friends or enemies. We simply need to know in order to know our own location, and whether we would survive whatever’s going on inside the rest of the houses.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Martie....Once again I want to thank you for keeping us abreast on the politics of S.A. I can honestly say that I have not seen nor heard a single bit of S.A. info, or reports that are legitimately newsworthy, appearing on the news outlets I often follow.

      You do such a wonderful job of bringing S.A. updates to us via HP, I'm certain you could easily be a Professional Reporter of high integrity.

      It's is sobering to say the least, to see such "similarities" in the overall big picture of our respective countries, Martie. Sadly, IMHO, it's as though an epidemic of national disharmony, political angst & upheaval, among destruction of Constitutional tradition has spread like a deadly virus.

      We all need to stand with one another in hope, strength & vision for the future health & welfare of each & every individual, as we share our parts of the world......Sending my Understanding & Support, dear friend.....Paula

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      Alicia, just thinking of the war up there in North Africa, and the doings of ISIS, and the traumas experienced by all those innocent victims, inspires me to rather write praise poems than complaining about the shortcomings of SA's leaders and citizens. But of course, all people need and want peace and perfect governance. Our dreams and hope should not be shuttered by foolish leaders and criminals!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      MsDora, our country needs a miracle, indeed! Too many people still behave and think like the people of the 17th and 18th centuries. So sad, and embarrassing! SA needs your prayers! But then, there are countries that need even more prayers. We still have a lot to be grateful of :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      actions. Sorry, Genna, my tablet keeps on freezing! Thanks for believing with me that perseverance will be rewarded :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      Genna, what's happening in the USA is, perhaps, a lesson to SA's white racists who believe that only black people are capable of vandalism and barbaric protests, and only black leaders are capable of autocratic, illogical

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm hoping that South Africa experiences true democracy soon. What a sad situation in your country. I have to admit that while I was reading your article I was reminded of the situation in some other parts of the world. We are experiencing difficult times.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      22 months ago from The Caribbean

      All that shouting and cussing in the background came from the honorable members of the ANC? Really? One of my teachers used to ask, "If the head of the fountain is muddy, how can the streams be clear?" It might have been a quote. Martie, you country needs a miracle!! Let's wee what happens in 2019, if not before.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      22 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "An orchestra is as good as his conductor, and a country is as good as his president." No truer words spoken. Your President appears to enjoy the chaos. What is happening in SA reminds of what is beginning to happen in our country's capital (and others for that matter), and across the nation in our City Halls, streets, parks, and on campuses. Our Congress continues to slug it out with acidic words. "Fortunately, perseverance will be rewarded." I believe this, Martie.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      always exploring – I am indeed tired and fed-up of all of this. Also in provincial and local (cities) government chambers we constantly see revolution and war and no constructive meetings. It’s all about personal ego and fighting for a well-paid position with benefits, instead of about serving and improving the country and its people. Sick! Keep in mind, Zuma has 4 wives and 21 or 22 children. Not to talk about his property in Nkandla, which is a mini-town, constantly needing expensive maintenance. He needs an enormous monthly salary.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      Nell Rose – When expecting drama, we have a saying directly translated. “The dolls are going to dance.” SA’s parliament is where the dolls dance. Witnessing it, makes my emotions swing between disgust, horror, and that orgasmic pleasure one experiences while watching a good comedy.

      Isn’t that laugh of Zuma absolutely repulsive? Imagine, someone laughs like that in your face while you are complaining about injustice being committed or caused by him? I swear I might attack someone who laughs like that at me, or about me and/or my issues.

      Zuma may have no formal education, but his shrewdness, brutishness, and ferociousness were well developed while he was a freedom fighter in charge of terrorists training centres.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      billybuc – I bet, while you saw the footage on TV, you felt good about the fact that you are quite informed when it comes to SA :))) Six of those white-shirts had to receive medical treatment after forcing the EFF’s out of the doors. We now expect some interesting court cases, as charges of assault have already been laid.

      I will not be surprised when severe outbursts and walk-outs soon become status quo in the USA’s chambers of Congress. (Interesting: Your parliament is called ‘Congress’, and also the names of your state officials differ from ours and the UK’s.) There is not much difference between Politics and Sports.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      sallybea – I saw the reports on CNN and BCC. Amazing, that the entire debacle could be summarized in a minute. If I haven’t seen footage of bad incidents in parliaments all over the world, including England’s, I would have believed that members of SA’s parliament are all savages. Fact is, anger is a powerful emotion. It can rip off a person’s entire cloak of so-called refinement within a second. Somehow the Zuma administration keeps all people in SA angry. Only the ignorant, uniformed, loyal supporters of Mandela and the ANC that existed before 2008 still vote for the ANC, even while they may not like Zuma. Unfortunately, they are the majority! Zuma will most probably go down in history as the country’s worse president, unless he does or incites miracles before 2019.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      22 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Two more years before unseating the president. People power, it worked here in America, perhaps it will work in SA. While watching him laugh in the video, I got the impression that he's having a ball. Many are protesting here, a waste of time. They do not speak for me. Protesting is best done at the voting booth. I know you are tired of all the turmoil in your beloved SA. I hope it ends soon. Where have all the good politicians gone? The war video was interesting and so true. War is a racket! I liked the beat though. lol...

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      Dear marcoujor - those praise songs are actually poems, and some of them are honestly beautiful, like the poems we would write to pay tribute to our beloveds. Performing them 'on stage' requires talent. But there is a time and a place for everything. Yes, we are quite fed-up with dishonest politicians and their obscene egos.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      Jodah - a truly democratic SA free of government corruption seems to be a fantasy like Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps it's time to accept reality as it is, and rather find more exciting ways to escape from it. Knowing what goes on elsewhere broadens our perspective on civilization. Some people will always be ahead of time, and some will always be centuries behind.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      22 months ago from England

      Wow, how fascinating Martie! I would never know all this if it wasn't for you. We don't get SA news over here much, in fact I can't remember the last time we did! I cannot believe he laughed like that! What? its all one big joke to them, take the money, fame etc, oh and a cute little guy there to sing his life and praises! fascinating stuff, but sad too.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      22 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It all made the news here in the U.S. It would have been entertaining if it hadn't been such a capsule of what is happening in many nations. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see our Congressional members going at each other with fists one of these days.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      22 months ago from Norfolk

      The videos even made news here in the UK. Those so called politicians should hang their heads in shame.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      22 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      While I realize your series is about South Africa, the stories surely start blurring in my mind, dear Martie.

      Even the theme of child stars 'singing their hearts out' feels the same with your, Given Lubisi (11yo) and our, Jackie Evancho (16yo) - I admit "TheRealMidnite" makes a darned good point.

      "War, what is it good for...?" The answer to this classic song's question never changes either - "...absolutely nothing."

      Wishing you a happy and rejuvenating week to come. Love you, mar

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing this, Martie. We hear very little in this country about the situation in South Africa. It is good to be updated. A truly democratic SA free of government corruption and Gupta influence should continue to be the goal.


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