Red tide highlights real issue
There are many questions that arose after the chaotic scenes seen in Parliament this week. These include why the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) behaved the way it did, as well as if there were other options the party could have used to make its point without reducing Parliament to a joke.
And perhaps more importantly, what did the party achieve? Did its members’ antics get President Jacob Zuma to actually account and give substantial answers to all the Nkandla questions? The answer is no.
Despite their drama and interruptions to get Zuma to commit to paying back the money, that did not happen. Instead, Zuma avoided answering more questions and got to leave even before the National Assembly was finished with its business. So the logical question is: was all the drama an exercise in futility?
We don’t think so. The heart of the matter here is Zuma’s apparent refusal to account to the Public Protector, who made damning findings against him, including that he had benefited from renovations to his home. Thuli Madonsela said he should pay back a reasonable percentage of the cost incurred by the state for elements that don’t relate to security at the estate, such as the pool, amphitheatre and cattle kraal.
Last week, Zuma released a 20-page response to Parliament in which he said Madonsela’s report was no more important than that of the Special Investigating Unit and a government task team report. Most of the report consisted of a summary of the different reports, except at the end, where Zuma made a recommendation that the police minister report to Cabinet on a determination on whether he is liable for any contribution in respect of the security upgrades.
This response was characteristic of how Zuma obfuscates, postpones, fudges, delays and ultimately escapes any responsibility for a matter that affects him. The so-called response represented another deferral to another structure. He was again showing the middle finger not only to the Public Protector but to the nation. As Zuma took to the stage in Parliament on Thursday to lull us to sleep with words that did not amount to answers, what the EFF did was make us focus on the real issue.