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Sona debate: DA's Steenhuisen accuses Ramaphosa of choosing party before country

Accusing President Ramaphosa of turning his promise of a new dawn into 'new despair', DA interim leader John Steenhuisen blamed him for failing to make the needed reforms to free up the economy, win back investors and create jobs.

Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen during the debate on Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona). Picture: YouTube screengrab.

CAPE TOWN - The knives were out for President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday as opposition parties carved up his State of the Nation Address (Sona), slating it for being plump with promises but short on decisive action.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen launched a stinging attack, accusing Ramaphosa of putting the interests of his party ahead of those of the country.

ANC speakers leapt to Ramaphosa’s defence.

John Steenhuisen charged that Ramaphosa had the nation behind him when he became president two years ago and that his position within the ANC was "as strong as it could ever be".

"Your moment, honourable President, came on Thursday last week and you blew it. It was a simple choice: country, or party. And unfortunately for the millions of South Africans, the people of this country, you chose your party."

Accusing Ramaphosa of turning his promise of a new dawn into "new despair", Steenhuisen blamed him for failing to make the needed reforms to free up the economy, win back investors and create jobs.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu was next up.

"Maybe honourable Steenhuisen wanted you, Mr President, to be guided by the DA manifesto."

Round two of the debate takes place in the National Assembly this afternoon, while Ramaphosa will have the stage to himself on Thursday when he replies to the debate.