The Witness - Wheels - - OPINION -

M MUSI Maimane’s scathing dis­sec­tion of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma will un­doubt­edly serve him well, set­ting him apart as a charis­matic leader of the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.

Maimane, who has been shrouded in party leader He­len Zille’s shadow un­til re­cently, was mer­cu­rial in the de­liv­ery of his “bro­ken man” speech dur­ing the two days of de­bate on the pres­i­dent’s State of the Na­tion ad­dress.

He spoke with a con­vic­tion and com­mand that be­lies his rel­a­tive youth, and lam­basted Zuma for his empty ad­dress last week, which was ef­fec­tively de­liv­ered to a house with­out op­po­si­tion af­ter the en­tire Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters’ ca­bal was ejected, and the DA stormed out in protest. Maimane did not mince his words, re­fer­ring to Zuma as “a bro­ken man pre­sid­ing over a bro­ken so­ci­ety”.

“We have al­lowed one pow­er­ful man to get away with too much for too long. This man is here in our pres­ence to­day. Hon­ourable Pres­i­dent, in th­ese very cham­bers, just five days ago, you broke Par­lia­ment,” he said.

Maimane went fur­ther, di­rectly ques­tion­ing the scru­ples of the first cit­i­zen, who grinned broadly while re­ceiv­ing the lash­ing.

“Please un­der­stand, Hon­ourable Pres­i­dent, when I use the term ‘ hon­ourable’, I do it out of re­spect for the tra­di­tions and con­ven­tions of this au­gust House. But please do not take it lit- er­ally. For you, Hon­ourable Pres­i­dent, are not an hon­ourable man.”

“You laughed. You laughed while the peo­ple of South Africa cried for their beloved coun­try. You laughed while tram­pling Madiba’s le­gacy — in the very week that we cel­e­brated 25 years since his re­lease. Hon­ourable Pres­i­dent, we will never for­give you for what you have done,” he said.

While it is un­likely that his well- crafted words will make any ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence to the presi- dent, it re­mains to be seen whether his ad­dress will have the ef­fect of uni­fy­ing those DA dis­si­dents who doubted his abil­ity to lead the party in Par­lia­ment. If any­thing, the man once drowned out by his pre­de­ces­sor, Lindiwe Maz­ibuko, ap­pears to have come into his own.

In do­ing so, he gave cre­dence to the no­tion that he will be the tip of the Demo­cratic Al­liance sword and that the point was well sharp­ened.

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