Photo: YouTube screenshot / Parliament TV
Photo: YouTube screenshot / Parliament TV
The debate of the State of the Nation address (SONA Debate) commenced on Tuesday, with opposition parties taking the opportunity to challenge the speech delivered President Cyril Ramaphosa. However, what nobody anticipated what the maiden speech of the EFF’s Naledi Chirwa.
Much of the rhetoric around the criticism of Ramaphosa’s speech was centred around the scope of the things he urged the government to achieve in the next five to ten years.
From the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) perspective, Ramaphosa’s ambition was admirable but with the support system he inherited from the tainted former president Jacob Zuma, he might as well have dreamed of a genie in a pot.
Decorum was upheld for the most part of the address. Even the chief instigator disruption, EFF leader Julius Malema, managed his temperament and engaged the president on the mistakes he made in his speech.
He pointed out that these visions of a South Africa with a smart city, a bullet train, and land expropriated without compensation, were tempting.
However, ordinary South Africans have dreams of greater importance — surviving in a treacherous country hampered by crime, rampant unemployment and an economy on the brink of collapse.
It was all good and well until the young Naledi Chirwa, a 23-year-old cadre of the Red Berets and an unapologetic feminist took the mic. Her seat in the National Assembly is a vessel for the unheard cries of endangered women and children of South Africa.
She delivered her maiden speech, charging at the president for his failure to restore safety for women and the LGBTQ community.
Her narrative of Thandi, an allegory of a student whose opportunities in life were stricken by the same system that promised to uplift her from poverty.
#SONADebate Chirwa: Thandi is unemployed and will remain unemployed for the next decade because you Mr. President, cannot cater for her needs in your job creation plan that rules out 80% of unemployed youth today for the next decade.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
Naledi Chirwa listed demands that the president ought to have prioritised in his SONA speech and these include:
#SONADebate Chirwa: The state must ensure 50% women representation in all spheres representing economic benefit, political participation, managerial and leadership responsibility.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
#SONADebate Chirwa: The state must introduce compulsory gender education and training for all from school level up to the highest level of public service.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
#SONADebate Chirwa: The state must introduce compulsory education of police on gender justice and establish specialized law enforcement units to deal with women related crimes. The time for meaningless frameworks and commissions on the gender question has long expired.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
#SONADebate Chirwa: Introduce a special inspectorate in the Department of Labour to monitor, report and enforce gender parity and equality in the workplace.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
#SONADebate Chirwa: Don’t just talk decriminalization of sex work if you don’t mean it.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
#SONADebate Chirwa: Stop unfair discrimination against LGBTQI individuals when they want to adopt children in need.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
#SONADebate Chirwa: Decommodify basic needs such as education and health so that they are driven by need and not profit maximization.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2019
The voice of one of the youngest Member of Parliament (MP) in our democratic history reverberated through the National Assembly, nudging at the egos of old heads to call on the first point of order of the joint sitting.
Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu were critical of the disruptions to her maiden speech. However, with a wry smile at the fiery young leader, they granted her leave to withdraw her statement suggesting that Ramaphosa was complicit in the murders that have committed by criminals in South Africa.
What a way to announce yourself in Parliament. Chirwa will surely be one to watch.