Newsroom/Speeches/

DEBATE ON PRESIDENT'S STATE-OF-THE-NATION ADDRESS

Ryan Coetzee, Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic Alliance
9 February 2009

Madam Speaker,

A party leader on the campaign trail can be forgiven for occasionally glossing over the less convenient aspects of his government's record. But it ill behooves a President addressing the citizens of his country to lurk behind obfuscation and omission.

For it is not enough to concede that there are problems without properly measuring the scale of those problems and responding to them accordingly.

You cannot preach against corruption, and claim credit for detecting and punishing it, when your government and its ANC predecessors have perpetrated one of the greatest cover-ups of all time and disbanded the country's leading corruption fighting agency.

A stand against corruption is a stand taken on indivisible principle, or it is no stand at all. One cannot be opposed to 70% of it, and think that makes you its enemy. The ANC is corruption's friend. That is the truth. Period.

Madam Speaker, you can also not glory in the expansion of the "social wage" when you have failed to create the opportunity for our citizens to earn a wage of their own. Indeed we are in danger of becoming a nation of welfare dependents without the skills or opportunity to take control of their own destiny.

And so for example we extend a child grant to indigent parents in an effort to keep bread on the table. And it's right that we do, because no child should ever go hungry. But we fail to provide those same children with an education that empowers them to put bread on their own tables one day.

Madam Speaker, you cannot claim credit for the strength of our constitutional structures when your own party has been the source of every assault on those very structures.

You cannot praise yourself for representatively in the public service when the public service is incapable of living up to the meaning of its own name.

You cannot claim to be the custodian of sound fiscal and monetary policies when your party has been taken hostage by communist revanchists and populists of all stripes, who rail on publicly about the inevitable collapse of the very economic system you claim to support.

You cannot claim to stand for freedom when you confuse it with the communist oppression and exploitation visited on the people of Cuba these past 50 years.

You cannot claim credit for a foreign policy towards Zimbabwe premised on callous indifference towards the misery of its people and that has produced, finally, a government that may be inclusive but is by no means democratically elected.

And so as election speeches go, the President's address was not particularly convincing.

But to be fair, this is not entirely the President's fault. He is after all not his party's chief campaigner, nor its presidential candidate. He is, as he himself conceded, a by-product of the ANC's culture of vicious internal combat.

That party remains hell bent on discrediting our country by running Mr Zuma for President. And that unhappy fact by itself makes a mockery of the claim that the state of our nation is good.