The opposition’s boycott of President Jacob Zuma’s reply in Parliament on Thursday was a “laughable publicity stunt” driven by “mob psychology”, the ANC chief whip’s office said.
This was after the DA, Cope, the United Democratic Movement, FF Plus, EFF, the Pan African Party, the ACDP and National Freedom Party boycotted Zuma’s reply to Wednesday’s debate on his budget vote.
Most EFF MPs were suspended after being thrown out when they did not want Zuma to speak on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the DA, Cope, UDM, FF Plus, NFP, PAC, ACDP and EFF benches in the National Assembly were empty after they decided that they would not attend the session.
IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was present and was later suggested by the Speaker as a possible “elder” who could help smooth the way again between parties.
The ANC said it was “ironic and irrational” that the opposition parties took part in the budget vote session on Wednesday, but not Thursday’s reply by Zuma.
Most opposition parties have become increasingly vocal about several court findings they believe reflect badly on Zuma.
Last Friday the High Court in Pretoria found the former acting national director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, should not have decided in 2009 that a corruption case, comprising 783 charges, against Zuma be dropped.
On April 6 2009 Mpshe said recordings of telephone conversations between then-Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Bulelani Ngcuka, showed political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.
The charges related to his alleged involvement in a controversial multibillion-rand arms deal. The recordings are referred to as the “spy tapes” and had been handed to the NPA by Zuma’s lawyers when they made a special representation that the charges against him be dropped.
Since the Pretoria “spy tape” ruling and a previous Constitutional Court judgment that Zuma pay back some of the public money spent on upgrades to his home in Nkandla, the opposition has turned up its call for Zuma to step down.
The ANC has stood firmly behind Zuma.
“We wish to repeat these basic and irrefutable facts that no narrow and self-serving opposition propaganda can wish away:
– No judgment of any court of law, including that of the ConCourt, has ever found that the President must be removed from office;
– The judgment on the so-called spy tapes case was directed at the NPA, not the President. The President was not on trial;
– The President is not facing any criminal charge; he has not been accused by any Court of any crime.”
Zuma’s speech was delivered on Thursday without a single point of order being put forward and was over in about 30 minutes.