National assembly parliament ramaphosa floating head

Image via Twitter: @ParliamentofRSA

Head of State: Zoom background banner causes havoc during National Assembly

The use of virtual banners and backgrounds during Zoom meetings sparked a debate during the National Assembly Q&A held on Thursday, 18 June 2020.

National assembly parliament ramaphosa floating head

Image via Twitter: @ParliamentofRSA

President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to supplementary questions during the Plenary National Assembly held on Thursday, 18 June 2020. However, the sitting wasn’t without a few hilarious moments.

National Assembly Q&A, 18 June 2020

Assisting hard-hit sectors

The trouble started a few minutes into the meeting; a background-related technical glitch caused a member of the National Assembly, Lusizo Makhubela-Mashele, to appear as a floating head.

Makhubela-Mashela mentioned that the aftermath of any economic downturn or devastation is usually characterised by extensive market regulations and industrial planning, which are state-led. She asked:

“What policy options being considered by government that would allow and give space to the hard-hit sectors to recover; specifically the protection of locally manufactured products?”

Ramaphosa responded and said that any devastation post-COVID-19 is similar to post-war periods. He confirmed that government “needs to reset nearly everything because post-COVID-19 is going to change everything”.

“Resetting the economy”

He added that South Africa’s economy has to be reset, along with the structure of the economy and that policymakers need to “look at the way we’ve always done things. COVID-19 “should herald a new change,” the president added.

“In a way, much as COVID-19 is a dark cloud hanging over the lives and the economy of our country, it does have a silver lining. The silver lining is that it gives us an opportunity to look at the way we’ve been doing things. Our policies and our processes, our institution; and see whether they are still fit for purpose to deal with the devastation that COVID-19 is going to bring about.”

He reiterated that the “state has to play a critical role”, and that any post-war situation “must be state-led”. Ramaphosa added that the state “is called upon to give leadership and that it will be still be required to give leadership to look at how the market is functioning”.

“Are the timeframes we had in mind still the same? Our budgeting processes also need to be looked at. Going forward, we are looking at starting from point zero, a zero-based budgeting process is now going to be heralded. We are now going to have a new normal”.

Banners, backgrounds and floating heads

However, on a lighter note, Director of Digital Marketing for the Democratic Party and Media Officer to the DA Leader, Azola Mboniswa, said on social media:

“We equally need to address these Zoom or virtual meeting background banners and how they mess up visuals. What is this in Parliament during Ramaphosa’s Q&A? Are these banners necessary?”

Valid question, seeing as there was quite some discussion about banners and backgrounds during the National Assembly Q&A. The speaker told members of parliament that they wouldn’t be allowed to speak if they have not set a background in Zoom.

Members asked why President Ramaphosa wasn’t using a background; to which the deputy speaker replied that the president is not a member of parliament. Therefore there is no need for him to use a background.

Watch the live stream here.