Maimane: Televised address should replace costly ‘beauty pageant’ SONA

Image credit: Facebook/Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has said a televised address from the Union Buildings in Pretoria should replace the costly State of the Nation Address (SONA) held in Parliament in Cape Town.

In an opinion piece published on News24 on Friday, Maimane likened SONA to “an MP beauty pageant” which South Africans watch the same way the watch the Oscars.

He wrote, “Unlike the Oscars where the nominees have cause to celebrate accomplishment, it can hardly be said that our Parliament has cause to celebrate. Let alone spend millions to hear a 5,000 word speech.”

‘I miss some things about SONA’

Maimane, who now leads the Movement for One South Africa, said the next President should cancel the “costly process” in favour of the televised address or “at best an ordinary sitting of Parliament.”

Nevertheless, he admitted that he misses “some things about the SONA, namely being able to engage with the speech, respond to it.”

He however slammed the disruption caused by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday as “off-putting” political point scoring.

Maimane also had harsh words for President Cyril Ramaphosa, referring to him as “Mr PR machine.”

‘American-style PR’

The ex-DA leader said, “The script is that every image of the President must be of him smiling and looking presidential, in the American style.”

He added that Ramaphosa should have stood up for “the voiceless masses out there [and] condemn the actions of MPs” rather than smile away while “being told to sit down in a condescending manner by a parliamentary junior.”

“It was a SONA to remember and painfully for the wrong reasons. You may support any of the parties in the Parliament yesterday, I certainly don’t,” he concluded.

Maimane has maintained an active public and social media presence despite resigning as DA leader last year along with former Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.

Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club last week, he said his Movement will not be a political party but will field independent candidates to contest elections.

He explained, “We need electoral reform. We need to directly elect people who will serve us rather than elect a party who will give us people we don’t know.”

To read Maimane’s opinion piece, click here.

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