This is the week of South Africa’s annual parliamentary drama of intrigue.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second State of the Nation Address takes place on Thursday evening. He could be in for a “zumafication”.
The SONAs have become our most watchable and unpredictable TV show, since Malema’s Economic Freedom Front (EFF) started ignoring the honour and majesty of the occasion and using it for self-promotion instead. With Zuma gone last year there were no shouts of “pay back the money” and Ramaphosa was allowed a dignified inaugural speech.
But now with the Zondo Commission into State Capture and allegations that corrupt funds found its way into Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign kitty, the EFF has threatened to revive this chant.
But the party still has to consider how to secure votes in the upcoming elections. And with the ANC having hijacked the EFF’s land expropriation electioneering thorn, Malema must realise that they are in desperate need of something distinct with which to trigger voter emotion. The EFF will therefore return to their old tricks and try to disrupt Thursday night’s SONA.
But as the successor to a man widely derided as SA’s Corruptor-in-Chief, Ramaphosa commands a lot of respect. Then there’s also the question of Malema’s sudden cosying up to Zuma. The two men appear to have called a truce. They are even saying nice things about each other in public.
This may well be a case of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. But it still leaves Malema and the EFF exposed to questions around political prostitution and the party’s value system.
Theirs wasn’t a cordial disagreement. EFF MPs branded Zuma with the harshest of words; everything from “a thief and “a rapist,” to “a criminal” and “a constitutional delinquent”. And now that Zuma’s name has been mentioned in a Zondo Commission testimony, so it would be interesting to see if Malema and Zuma’s relationship has come full circle; back to the days when he was prepared to “die for Zuma,” and how that is going to translate into voter support for either man.