South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Thursday acknowledged the gravity of his country’s economic situation in his annual address to parliament.
President Zuma had a tough time putting his message across as opposition MPs heckled him continuously.
MPs from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party said they could not listen to someone who had broken his oath of office.
The EFF MPs chanted “Zupta must fall” in reference to the President’s alleged links to the influential Gupta family.
Their leader, Julius Malema ignored several calls to order saying “Zuma does not deserve anyone’s respect, he stole, he corrupted the economy of South Africa, he transformed this country into a joke”.
The opposition MPs were eventually ejected from parliament.
President Zuma told parliament “we’re going through a hard time for a while”, a situation he blamed on the 2008 financial crisis and slowing global growth.
“Our country runs the risk of seeing its sovereign rating downgraded by the rating agencies,” he noted.
President Zuma however assured South Africans that “our democracy is functional, sturdy and stable”.
“But our journey towards a non-racial society is not finished. The nation was shaken last month when racism showed its ugly face on social networks,” he said, stressing the need to “face the demon of racism. “
Jacob Zuma announced a law prohibiting foreigners from owning farm lands.
“We need to lock land ownership, and prohibit foreign citizens from owning lands,” adding that foreigners would be “eligible for long-term leases.”
The President however did not comment on his infamous Nkandla property scandal neither did he say anything about the disastrous economic impact of the sacking of two Finance ministers in December which led to the start of the campaign, #ZumaMustFall.
The State of the Nation address, a highlight of the South African political life, comes two days after the start of a hearing by the Constitutional Court on the use of state funds to renovate Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla.