The Parliamentary debates took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and though they were far less dramatic than the events that preceded the SONA, they were certainly lively.
In his response to the debates Zuma took jibes at opposition parties, saying Africans were traumatised by the behaviour of Members of Parliament during the SONA. He did not acknowledge any damage caused by the Parliamentary VIP Security, which was made up of members of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The Democratic Alliance (DA) did not shy away from heckling President Zuma during his speech in which he took a jibe at the DA’s spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme. In a play on words Zuma said action star Jean Claude Van Damme, who became the subject of a popular hit song in December, died on New Year’s Eve, so he could not understand how she could have been resurrected to kill his SONA.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were visibly absent from Parliament after opting to raise their concerns at a press briefing at their headquarters in Johannesburg earlier this week.
Zuma’s speech consisted of his usual rhetoric where he spoke of “radical economic transformation” by increasing the number of black businesses and committing to increasing the Department of Small Business Development’s funding for black entrepreneurs.
He also spoke about education in the country, praising Government’s work in eradicating mud schools and improving the delivery of water and sanitation to schools in poor communities.
Zuma also appealed to white South Africans, saying that the demand to have land returned to black people is not a form of hatred towards them, but rather an attempt at reconciliation.
On social media, South Africans had mixed views about his speech:
#SONAReply even if Zuma had something relevant and realistic to say people wouldn’t believe him. That’s how fed up SA citizens are.— S’Thibo (@Thaboramasike) February 16, 2017
Him: They know what they want for themselves and their country.
Me : Yes daddy we do, and we know it ain’t you🎶#SONAReply #Speech
— Mbali Mthombeni (@NaMhlosheni) February 16, 2017
The Nkandla village comes before the people of South Africa.— TweetGuru (@JustKholii_) February 16, 2017
Houses were built there faster than schools in rural areas. #SONAreply
ANC MP’s playing games on their phones while Zuma addresses them #SONAReply
— Peter David Cyster (@Peter_C_76) February 16, 2017