A broken man, presiding over a broken society

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by DA Parliamentary Leader Mmusi Maimane MP, during the State of the Nation Address Debate.

Madame Speaker,

Honourable President and Deputy President

Honourable Members

Fellow South Africans




Eleven days ago we lost one of South Africa’s literary giants, Professor Andre Brink. Our sadness at his passing is tempered only by the great literature he bequeathed us.


Professor Brink taught us a powerful lesson. He taught us that you cannot blame a faceless system for the evils in society. It is human beings that perpetrate wrongs against others. And it human beings that have the power to correct these wrongs.


We would do well to heed this lesson as we debate the State of the Nation today.


Because, if we are to succeed as a nation, we need to start believing in the power of human agency. We need to resurrect the idea that the choices we make, and the actions we take, matter.


It is true that the uneven legacy of the apartheid system weighs heavy on us. It is a fact that black children still do not have the same opportunities as white children. This is a human tragedy that nobody in this House should ever accept.


Much has been done to redress the past, make no mistake. Life in South Africa today is certainly better than it was during apartheid. But we need to hold ourselves to a much higher standard than that.


We need to become the nation that President Nelson Mandela helped us believe we could become. A place of hope, prosperity, selfless leadership and mutual respect.


And so the question we must ask today is: what is holding us back from achieving Madiba’s vision?


We can blame apartheid. We can blame the global financial system. We can even blame Jan van Riebeeck.


But in our hearts, we know what the problem is. We have allowed those in power to become bigger than our institutions, breaking them down bit by bit.


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.


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 literally. For you, Honourable President, are not an honourable man.

You are a broken man, presiding over a broken society.


You are willing to break every democratic institution to try and fix the legal predicament you find yourself in.


You are willing to break this Parliament if it means escaping accountability for the wrongs you have done.


On Thursday afternoon, outside this House, Members of Parliament were being arrested and assaulted by your riot police.


A few hours later, inside this House, our freedom to communicate was violated by an order to jam the telecommunications network.


Not long after, armed police officers in plain shirts stormed into this sacred chamber and physically attacked members of this House.


This was more than an assault on Members of Parliament. It was an assault on the very foundations of our democracy.


Parliament’s constitutional obligation to fearlessly scrutinise and oversee the Executive lost all meaning on Thursday night.


The brute force of the state won. And the hearts of our nation broke.


We knew, at that very moment, that our democratic order was in grave danger.


And what did you do?


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.


Madam Speaker, I led my party out of this House on Thursday night because we could not sit by while our freedoms were destroyed right in front of us.


When we emerged from this chamber, we heard the President reading the cold and empty words from his prepared text.


They were the words of a broken man, presiding over a broken society.


For 6 years, he has run from the 783 counts of corruption, fraud and racketeering that have haunted him from before the day he was elected.


For 6 years, this broken man has spent his waking hours plotting and planning to avoid his day in court.


In this broken man’s path of destruction, lies a litany of broken institutions. Each one of them targeted because of their constitutional power to hold him to account.


A broken SARS, that should be investigating the fringe tax benefits from Nkandla, the palace of corruption that was built with the people’s money.


A broken NPA, that should have continued with its prosecution of the President, without fear or favour.


A broken SIU, a broken Hawks, a broken SAPS. And so we could go on with the list of institutions President Zuma is willing to break to protect himself and his friends.


This is why we are a broken society. Because the abuses do not stop at the door of the Union Buildings. The power abuse is happening at every level. We have mini-Zuma’s in governments and municipalities all over South Africa.


In Mogalakwena, I met a woman who had not been able to wash for days because there was no water.


The lack of water in Mogalakwena is not a system failure. It is a failure of local politicians to put the people first. In this community, service delivery has come to a standstill as ANC councillors wage a factional war over access to the spoils of power.


Local police officers with a duty to serve the community have been co-opted by factions to intimidate residents and supress protest. As the war rages on, rubbish piles up in the streets, sewage pipes continue to leak, and the taps run dry.


All because of these broken men, presiding over broken towns and cities. They learned from the best.


In Atteridgeville, I met a good man running a hospice that is struggling more and more each day to care for the sick because all their money goes to fuelling a generator. This is their last line of defence against an electricity crisis that plagues them on a daily basis.


The daily struggle of this community-funded organization is just one example of the devastating impact this electricity crisis is having on households, businesses, schools, hospitals, and countless other facets of society.


Where is the accountability from this broken man who claims to be our President, when all he can offer is more of the same? All he does is promise to keep bailing out Eskom and secure its monopoly over our power supply.


Load-shedding is a crisis that will take our economy to the brink of economic shutdown. Our economy has lost R300 billion since 2008 because, without a stable electricity supply, manufacturers cannot produce, investors are driven away and jobs are lost.


That is why Mr President when you stand here and promise the same jobs every year that never materialize, we simply cannot believe you. On Thursday the President said that the NDP’s ambition to grow at 5% by 2019 is at risk as a result of slow global growth and domestic constraints. How then are other SADC countries growing at an average of 5.6% facing the same external pressures? The answer is our real constraints are because of the policy failures of this government.


In his 9 point plan he failed to address the need for solid economic infrastructure. He left the electricity monopoly with Eskom. Gave the broadband monopoly to Telkom. And left SANRAL to toll our roads in Gauteng. The legacy of this will be more government bailouts and failing infrastructure, leading us to more job losses, more debt and a broken state.


The broken man who broke our economy.


Despite all his past promises, what President Zuma failed to tell us last week was that, today, there are 1.6 million more South Africans without jobs than when he took office in 2009. Living, breathing human beings robbed of their feeling of self-worth, and their ability to provide for their families.


From Ikageng, to Nelson Mandela Bay, to Soweto, I met unemployed youth who have lost hope of finding a job. They are the victims of an unequal education system that serves the interests of a powerful teacher’s union over learners, and where poorer schools go without textbooks, desks and proper classrooms.


The consequence, as parents in Riverlea told me, is that crime and drugs continue to enslave our youth, and druglords operate freely in our communities.


This is the state of our broken society, battling under the burdens of unemployment, crime, power cuts, and an unequal education system.


South Africa may be a broken society under a broken President, but the spirit of our people is a lot harder to break.


We are still standing as a people today because South Africans were able to free ourselves from the worst forms of oppression under Apartheid.


Today we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that is admired across the world.



We have an obligation to future generations of South Africans to make sure we continue the fight for a fairer society, where there is greater opportunity for all to live a better life, and where the rights and freedoms granted to us by the Constitution are protected.


But on Thursday we received a criminally weak account of the State of the Nation from a broken President.


We can have a stable electricity supply in South Africa, but a war-room is not going to solve it.


The President knows what needs to be done to keep the lights on: break the Eskom monopoly. As long as they are in charge of the national grid they will act to prevent any meaningful contributions by independent power producers to our electricity supply.


He must also abandon the R1 trillion nuclear deal – future generations will pay for this in electricity price hikes while we wait over a decade to see any power. And of course the secrecy behind this deal means there is scope for corruption on a mega-Arms deal scale.


We can and we must have a more equal education system, where schools are properly resourced, teachers are well-trained, and there is commitment and leadership from school principals.


There are many hard-working educators out there, but the President ignored the need to hold principals and teachers accountable when they fail our children.


We believe it is possible for entrepreneurs to flourish, with an economy that grows at 8% and creates millions of jobs if we make the right choices.


But the government’s ideas are stale. We need economic infrastructure that is reliable. We need tax incentives for established business people to participate in mentorship programmes. We need a National Venture Capital Fund to fund start-ups. We need to rollout Opportunity Centres where advice and support is readily available. We need a real Youth Wage Subsidy that benefits even the smallest of businesses.


We believe it is possible for our country to be a place where the streets are safe and communities are healthy places to raise families, where the police properly managed and trained.


But while our communities are being over-run by druglords and the President said nothing about crime! Where are the specialized anti-drug units? Drug crime has doubled since they were taken away.


People don’t trust the police, but if the SAPS is going to have its integrity restored, it needs to start with the national police commissioner.


Our crime-fighting institutions such as the Hawks, the NPA, and the SIU must be led by people committed to fairness and justice, and free from interference by powerful political interests.


We believe it is possible to realize a vision of South Africa where every effort is made to redress the legacy of Apartheid through a land reform programme that truly benefits those who were denied access to land.


All the President has offered us is a populist proposal to ban foreign land ownership. This will only kill investment and jobs.


The 17.5 million hectares of fertile soil in communal land areas must be unlocked for reform purposes. State-owned land must be fully audited and used to fast-track redistribution to deserving beneficiaries. And farmworkers must become farm-owners in partnership with commercial farmers, through the NDP’s system of identifying and purchasing available land on the market. But we all know, Mr President, that half the people sitting behind you don’t support the NDP and will not implement it.


Only through bold reforms that go to the heart of the problem will we meaningfully redress the legacy of restricted access to land.


Madam Speaker, the tide is turning in our country. As Professor Brink wrote in his most celebrated work, A Dry White Season:


“The image that presents itself is one of water. A drop held back by its own inertia for one last moment, though swollen of its own weight, before it irrevocably falls… as if the water, already sensing its own imminent fall, continues to cling, against the pull of gravity, to its precarious stabilty, trying to prolong it as much as possible.”


Madam Speaker, change may seem slow, but it is coming. There is a swell starting to build and, when the wave crashes, it will sweep this broken man out of power. When that happens, we will be there to start fixing this broken society, and unleash the potential of South Africans.


That is why the party I lead in this Parliament will not join other parties in breaking down our institutions. Because one day, when we are in government, we will want those institutions and this Parliament to hold us to account.


And so we will work within the institutions of democracy to hold this government to account, and we will continue creating opportunities for all where we govern. We will work tirelessly to build a truly democratic alternative in South Africa. We will restore power to our people.


I thank you!

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  • May Raine

    Our Nation is proud of you, Mmusi – our future President. You stand for truth, justice, accountability and our constitutional democracy. You stand for our freedoms in Republic of South Africa. The time for change is upon us. Keep speaking truth to power.

  • Your words have power! It has obviously fallen on deaf ears with Zuma (I’ve seen pictures of him laughing while you gave this speech). I hope it will sway the people’s minds to the point where they see that they are responsible for change more than anyone.

  • Hayden Napier

    You made all the other parties debates come across as shit, julius had a tough time following that; reading his speech for the first time it seems. Nice conviction by Mmusi Maimane. Great job, great speech, not boring, to the point, just flawless.

  • Pierre Adriaan Du Plessis

    I want to see change in this country. I want to see suffering end for the poor. I care about the people regardless of skin. I want for people not to hate me because I was born white, just as I do not hate or love anybody as a result of their race but for their character and merit. We all deserve happiness and I believe that if change ever happens, it will be brought about by steadfast men like Mmusi Maimane.

    • Great comment.

    • judd stone

      exactly. The fact that Mmusi is a black African has no bearing on his intellect. this man has risen above and achieved with out expecting a free ride and handouts.

  • unemplyed

    A brilliant speech Mr Maimane, please get this thought to the 62% of voters

  • cgaybba

    Mmusi for president!!! Powerful words by a man with the right vision and mission for this country!

  • Clive Dobson

    Capitalism is the wrong system for the world. Here’s some open source information at One Community and their views on TVP and TZM. Let’s build NOW 😀 ! We need a resource based economy.

  • judd stone

    Mmusi for President. its just a pity that the rank and file who support ZUMA will not read this or interrogate the issue with open eyes. The ZUMA regime has poisoned the heart and soul of this country and the people who still support him after this latest debacle have shown just how foolish that they are.

  • Spyda

    Wow, wow, wow!! I honestly have no interest in politics and believe that politicians are in it to win it for themselves. However, after listening to this, for the first time in my life I listened to a leader that I am willing to follow, to believe in and to be proud of. Wow Mmusi, you are what our country has been missing.

  • Mmusi Maimane, you bring tears of joy to my eyes when you speak. I stand behind you now, and will continue to do so when you are President one day. Amandla!

  • RobRob

    Viva Mmusi!
    Viva DA!
    Outstanding job!

  • petrus johannes smit

    We need a president of his calibre, integrity and responsibility accepting credentials. Way to go mr Presodent to be.

  • Jill Henning

    Viva Mmusi Maimane Viva. This is the real state of the nation and so sad.

  • Yolande Kira Kluth

    Mmusi, you have given me hope once again. Our president may have placed his friends in all the important, powerful places, robbing South Africans of justice and democracy, but one thing he cannot take away from us, is the power of our vote, and this power overrules all the others!!! Vote for Mmusi!

    • Gizella Julia McCullough

      I am with you there Yolande. DA and Mmusi all the way. Mmusi is the future this country deserves!!!!! ANC get out the way the DA is coming through … And make sure the door doesn’t hit you on the way out!

  • Nice work Mmusi ..those that use history and race to divide us need to be relegated to the scrap heap .In the end it will come down to those ancient values that sustain us as humans and the wrong minded thinking of greed and self enrichment that are devastating our land and the world at large ,must be held in check and reversed .there is no other way. the story of human history and progress is always one of a battle between the forces of light and the forces darkness.

  • 1_nam_man

    A million up votes for you Mmusi! You go!!!

  • Shirley-Ann Evans

    Give that man the bottle of bells! U have echoed the people and we are grateful that someone is listening!

  • Martyn Manley

    A broken land, no future ahead, a youth in turmoil, crime or a job
    instead. Where to next, a question from me. Jacob or is it Maimane?

  • JJ le Roux

    Great speach Mr Maimane!

  • Emil Thompson

    Well said mr Maimane! Call a spade a spade! It is time that the “honorable” President is brought to justice. No one is above the law, but it seems that the “well connected” ANC elite are omitted from abiding the law. That what has happened at the SONA and that what is happening in the Ukrane is one and the same. Jacob Zuma = Vladimir Putin. We cannot let our beautiful country deteriorate any more! It is time for each and every citizen to tell their neighbor about the corrupt ways of the ANC.

  • Alicia Smit

    I have never voted before and for that I am sorry. From now on, you Mmusi, will have my vote! We need more men like you!

    • sandybee

      I’ll be joining you, never voted in my life, I’ll be bringing my family members who have also never voted before. I hope more people vote, specially those that have never voted before.

  • Congratulations – I echo all the previous comments – well done. You provide hope for us all.

  • Jaques Tiearney

    The Lord heard our prayers and gave us a leader that can be followed to a great new country! Mr. Maimane, I voted for you last time and will again! Please keep doing it for a better safe for all! Awe!

  • Gizella Julia McCullough

    DA and Mmusi all the way. Mmusi is the future this country deserves!!!!! ANC get out the way the DA is coming through … And make sure the door doesn’t hit you on the way out!

  • Leigh Le Gonidec

    Great speech Mr M!

  • Mario

    Mr Maimane, you are a straight thinker with your head screwed on right. I would vote for you as president any day!

  • Chantal Embleton

    Sherbet, this is so inspiring! Mmusi, you are definitely the man to take us forward.

  • Neil Probert

    Dont give that man a Bell’s…… give him a Johnnie Walker Blue…….

  • Fahiem

    The DA speak strongly against corruption which is good following EFF who started it. BUT when human beings were killed the DA could not speak out this strongly against the Zionist Israel. This does not make sense. Which seems they OK with Oppression but not corruption. Why do DA not recognize the Israel government as an apartheid State?.

    • Gerard

      With all due respect to your concern with issues happening in other parts of the world, I ask how do expect any political party within SA let alone the DA to help them out when our own country is in crisis. Before we can even think of helping out other parts of the world we need to take care of our own people first

  • Michelle Rene

    Err…what about scrapping BEE for fairer ‘on merit only’ appointments? I was horrified at the deterioration of the UKZN Durban-Westville campus, only to be informed about the ‘replacement’of Indian academic staff with incompetent Black cohorts. As a result, potentially wealthy Indian patrons of educational institutions pulled out of investing in what could have been one of the greater educational institutions in Africa- instead a beautiful 60s designed architectural masterpiece has been allowed to fall into a parlous state of disrepair along the lines of the rest of our hard-won institutions . It’s all very well to emulate the performance of British MPs in Opposition out on an Election trail merely criticising the gvt in resounding speeches. It’s what you are able to achieve for your constituents pre- and post-election that speaks volumes.

    • NoNeed

      Well the DA can’t do anything about KZN but you can see what they have achieved in the Western Cape. So this speech is not emulating anyone. Its coming from the mouth of someone who actually has brought change.

  • Hanri

    Mmusi, jou ou YSTER, ek stem enige tyd vir jou!

  • John Smyth

    Probably the most important speech made in Parliament – ever!

  • Great speech. Well constructed and delivered, hitting all the right notes.

  • our_oracle

    Does anyone have a link to Mmusi Maimane’s full SONA 2015 speech? It would be brilliant if this website not only had a text of the speeches, but the video as well.

  • ina

    MAIMANE FOR PRESiDENT !!!! Ive felt this a long time ago and now even more than ever. We need an intelectual president. A thinker and a serious man with purpose. He is that man.

  • Eileen Mackintosh

    Your speech brought tears to my eyes – everything you said was “spot-on”. I worry about the future of this wonderful country if those in power do not heed your words.

  • Philip Neser

    I dream of a day when i wake up to a happy South Africa, one where race and color does not matter, one where we live in harmony and love with one another! Mmusi you give me hope brother! Together we will fix this nation, together we will stand tall and be proud of our wonderfull country and its people!!

  • Nongqawuse

    great speech but devoid of plan to end townships, redistribute wealth equitably among all south africans, not just the few whites and politically connected blacks. Viva EFF.

  • a broken man

    Before we can change, SA must fix documentations of old apartheid era!

    The state claimed a number of free claimed properties in the past for “historical purpose” and it broke down many generations.
    How can we still build on fraud and corruption? Personally I will try to vote for once in my life but my past generation was abused and we never bothered voting or spoke politics around the dinner table in that matter.

  • Christle-Lyn Beech

    I’m so proud to be South African! May it be so!

  • Jon Quirk

    This speech should be required, standard text reading for every student at every institution of learning throughout our country.

    We salute you, Mr Maimane.