President Jacob Zuma replied to two days of debates on his State of the Nation Address 2016 in Parliament. The SONA debate reply was given by the president on Thursday 18 February 2016 in the absence of some opposition members.
The President started the SONA debate reply by thanking the MPs for their participation in the SONA debate, and the suggestions they made to move the economy forward expressing his regret that the debate had taken place at a difficult time for the country especially for the people of mpumalanga and Barberton.
See Also: Zuma Begs For Respect In Parliament
President Zuma lamented about the incident at Lily mine that trapped three workers underground imploring prayers and support for the families affected.
He said that the incident raised a lot of questions about the safety of the mines “we want to know what happened so that this can be prevented in the future” he said.
The situation at the mine was described as painful and frustrating by the president who proposed to prioritize the matter in his discussion with the mining sector.
In his SONA debate reply, Zuma mentioned that last week Thursday placed the nation on a center stage where some of the MPs behaved in a most disappointing manner that could taint the image of the nation.
He likened the difficulties in South African economy to other economies for the last eight years of global financial crisis.
According to the SONA debate reply, low commodity and oil prices have disrupted the balance of commodity exporting countries like South Africa.
“if the economy does not grow, jobs will not be created, and the existing jobs are at risk”
However, Zuma said South Africa’s prudent fiscal management and sound monetary policies supported macroeconomic stability and promoted competitiveness.
“It is for this reason that we say that South Africa’s positive attributes far outweigh the challenges. And these challenges are being addressed through dedicated programmes and plans,” he said.
He however acknowledged opposition MPs’ concerns about the economy, youth development, corruption and the drought.
On crime and corruption;
Zuma said legislation on cyber crimes and combating of corrupt activities would be introduced in Parliament this year.
He also announced that two new special police units were being established. The South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau and the National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control and Priority Violent Crime will fall under the Hawks.
Surprisingly, Zuma did not respond to several MPs’ calls for him to leave office and the “Planet Zuma” speech by the DA leader. Instead, Zuma urged MPs to change their behavior saying they were damaging the image of the country.
“I think we should change.
We are not doing any good for our voters. We have to think about the people who sent us here. What do they learn from us?
I believe when we say ‘honorable members’, we mean it and people must understand the word to be really serious. We cannot call ourselves honorable and behave in a dishonorable manner.”
Towards the end, Zuma pointed out that the 2016 SONA is about uniting the country, boosting the economy growth, creating jobs and a better life for all.
Meanwhile, all the criticisms on Zuma seemed to have fortified him as he appeared to be emboldened during his SONA debate reply.
The 2016 SONA debate reply focused on the following:
~Spurring youth development