Zuma takes stage to tackle SONA critics

The president is delivering his reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address.

President Jacob Zuma. South Africa. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has taken the podium at Parliament this afternoon to respond to the debate over his State of the Nation Address.

For the past two days, Members of Parliament have had their official say on the address, which took place last week.

Many used the opportunity to slam Zuma's term as head of state.

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko went as far as to say she'll move for the president's impeachment if he is found guilty of wrongdoing in the Nkandla debacle, with more than R200 million spent on his private KwaZulu-Natal residence.

But Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies hit back at the opposition, saying DA leaders had to explain the role of a donor in its failed merger with Agang SA.

With elections just around the corner, the question is whether Zuma's response will be used to defend himself, or simply continue his 'good news' approach.

So far in his reponse he has admitted that government debt will rise to 45 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

In 1994, it was 48 percent and, at its lowest, it reached 27 percent in 2008.

He says the state must intervene in the economy and the interests of the poor and working class.

Zuma also remarked that ownership, management and control of the economy needed to be further deracialised.

"We've achieved political freedom," he says, "now we must achieve economic freedom."

He says the post-elections South Africa will move into new radical phase with policies to address poverty, unemployment and inequality.