Wed, 01 Apr 2020

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema on Tuesday challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa to implement the state's proposed economic interventions, claiming the president was paying lip service to an emergency.

MPs held the first day of the State of the Nation Address debate in the National Assembly chamber on Tuesday afternoon. Much was said during the debate about South Africa's energy crisis, unemployment and underwhelming economic growth.

Malema's contribution to the debate was interrupted by African National Congress MPs multiple times - in much the same way that the EFF interrupted the State of the Nation Address itself about a week ago.

Malema told MPs that he did not believe Ramaphosa was serious about establishing a state-owned bank. He dared the president to establish the bank as a reformative agent challenging large banks operating in the financial sector.

"We know that you don't believe in state-owned banks, so we are challenging you to implement it. We want you to establish a bank that will assist petrol attendants, farm workers and our people without charging them disproportionately," said Malema.

READ| OPINION: Ramaphosa has shown he understands how to put the energy crisis behind us

'Hijacking' EFF ideas

Malema further claimed that the African National Congress was jittery about establishing a state-owned bank until Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni "hijacked the superior logic of the EFF".

"On the sovereign wealth fund, we want you to implement this so that we can invest in growing our own economy. We know that Norway has done it, we know that Dubai has done it, we just need to political will to get on with it," Malema said.

Malema also urged Ramaphosa to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank in a bid to change established economic patterns in the country.

"You didn't say anything about the Reserve Bank. We want the people to own their own sovereignty. The Reserve Bank must be owned by the state on behalf of the people," he said.

Malema said Ramaphosa would not succeed at changing South Africa's economic fortunes by leaving it in the hands of the global market.

"You have not created any jobs. Instead, you create unemployment. Since you came, more young people are unemployed. It is this belief that you can build foreign direct investment that will not work. We need to own the banks, mines and industries so the state can intervene in the economy," Malema said.

On Ramaphosa's announcement of a smart city, Malema said he believed no smart city would be created, and called the announcement of a rehash of an idea that existed since 2011.

Malema was not the only one to challenge the originality of solutions proposed in the SONA. DA interim leader John Steenhuisen, while welcoming the move to allow municipalities to procure energy from independent power producers, added: "You can't claim these as your ideas. The DA has been offering you these solutions for years."

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