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The SONA address that was doomed from the start

We are waking up to a society that is vastly different to the one we had two days ago. But we knew that the State of the Nation Address was going to be a game changer. We just didn’t know the extent of the change. We also knew that it was not going to be business as usual. 

Opinion FD

From the start the EFF alluded to the fact that it was going up against a man it deems a criminal. The party was never going to allow Jacob Zuma to address the nation while they were in the National Assembly. 

But after last night’s chaos, we are all losers. Our image has been battered and bruised, because the people’s parliament was turned into a spectacle of note. 

The scenes that played out could not have left anyone without a bitter taste in the mouth. Gone are the days of robust debate and parliamentary decorum. Welcome to the era of everything that is the opposite of that. An era where fist fights break out inside the National Assembly for the entire country to witness.

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I was on the steps of parliament last night, watching the EFF and DA leaving the National Assembly. I watched as members of the EFF were forcefully removed. Women screamed and blows were traded as the esteemed members of parliament were dragged outside. It was not a pretty sight. Nothing about it was parliamentary. In fact, nothing about the security forces out in full force was parliamentary. 

But the chaos and vehement opposition didn’t start last night. Throughout last year, we watched a steady build up of what was to come. Our leaders anticipated some upheaval at this year’s SONA because their response to possible clashes was to deploy scores of police and military officials. 

Furthermore, areas were cordoned off  to push back any possible protesting groups wanting to gain access to the precinct. It was the talk amongst those who are regulars to the State of The Nation Address. Many commented on the fact that security has never been so tight. 

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The area was on lockdown –  that you could see and feel. The usual red carpet affair, pomp and ceremony -  mere moments of distraction that somehow made it feel like everything could perhaps go smoothly. But nothing could be further from that truth. We know this now. 

And as we begin another day, we are entering a new era because everything changed last night. But will our president take any notice of the issues raised? Will he understand and grasp the fact that he is the root of the problem? I doubt it. Zuma told an ANC supporter gathering that those who regard themselves as serious South Africans listened to his speech. Maybe some did. But I’m willing to bet that many stopped listening at the exact moment the president started speaking. 

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