Mmusi Maimane led the charge‚ saying Zuma was a corrupt leader who had prioritised nobody but the controversial Gupta family that is at the centre of the state capture claims.
But order quickly returned to the house when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ who is the front-runner in the ANC race to replace Zuma‚ took to the podium with all sections of the horseshoe chamber attentively listening to him.
Zuma had earlier been heckled by DA MPs as he presented his budget vote for 2017/18.
Maimane fired a broadside at ANC MPs and the broader leadership of the party‚ saying they had failed to recall Zuma from office at every given opportunity in the last seven years through motions of no confidence and various court rulings against him.
“You’ve rallied behind him every single time. it’s President Zuma first‚ SA last. It’s the Guptas first‚ SA last. It’s the ANC first‚ SA last. In fact it’s corruption first‚ SA last‚” he said.
Maimane said the ANC would be laid to rest in the next general elections in 2019.
“Fellow South Africans‚ we dare not languish in hopelessness. When things fall apart‚ they fall into place.
“President Zuma may have killed the ANC‚ but we will not let him kill South Africa.”
He said parliament should not vote in favour of Zuma’s budget allocation for 2017/18.
“If we vote for it‚ we support a budget for a Mafia shadow state. Section 85 of the Constitution says that the executive authority of the Republic is vested in the President. So why is ours vested in Dubai‚” he said in reference to reports that Zuma was pursuing a United Arab Emirates citizenship.
“This is a budget for President Gupta. Keep that in mind when you cast your vote.”
But Maimane was ordered to withdraw the “President Gupta” remark following protests from ANC backbenchers.
This led to a heated exchange between DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete.
Steenhuisen told Mbete that she “needed some serious sessions of psychiatry” after she earlier said the DA chief whip had a tendency of making “not so honourable” comments.
Mbete had tried to intervene after ANC backbencher Mervyn Dirks called Steenhuisen a racist.
“That racist white boy can’t call the President ‘that man.’ That is disrespectful and insulting‚ he must withdraw‚” said Dirks.
IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi mocked Zuma and the ANC after defeating them at a crucial by-election in Nquthu in KwaZulu-Natal last week.
“I know you wish I could stop speaking. I remember how after decades of our working with Mr Oliver Tambo‚ Mr John Nkandimeng suddenly said‚ in the ANC mission in exile‚ ‘Gatsha is the snake that poisoned South Africa‚ that needs to be hit on the head.’ Is that what happened in Nquthu?” he said to loud laughter from various sections of the House.
Opposition MPs clapped as Ramaphosa walked over to the podium‚ with the IFP’s Liezl van der Merwe shouting to ANC MPs “you must listen‚ the president is speaking”.
But both Zuma and Ramaphosa received separate standing ovations from ANC MPs at the end of their speeches that focused largely on the achievements of government.
Shouts of “for the Guptas – you need to resign for that to happen”‚ came from the benches of the DA whenever Zuma referred to “a better life for all” in his speech.
EFF MPs boycotted the debate in line with their stance of refusing to recognise Zuma as a legitimate state president.
Zuma is expected to hit back on Thursday afternoon when he closes the debate.