MAIMANE COMES INTO HIS OWN
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.