Call to halt South Africa's state address

Wednesday January 31 2018

Copy of a letter requesting the South African

Copy of a letter requesting the South African Parliament to postpone the 2018 State of the Nation Address.  

By PETER DUBE
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Two of South Africa’s biggest parties, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and the Democratic Alliance (DA), are attempting to block President Jacob Zuma from delivering next Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).

The two parties have written to the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Baleka Mbete, requesting that Sona be postponed until the National Assembly elects a new president.

In its letter, the EFF makes an implicit threat to disrupt the speech if it goes ahead.

“We write to the Speaker to request that she must start processes of rescheduling the Parliament programme if Zuma is still president. Failure to do so will leave us with no option‚ but to take up the issue during Sona,” the party wrote on Tuesday.

DA has argued that last year’s Sona cost over $930,000 (R11 million) of taxpayer money to beef up security.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said it would not be in the best interests of South Africa for President Zuma to deliver the Sona when there exists great uncertainty as to whether he will remain president

“I have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting that this year’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), scheduled for next Thursday 8 February, be postponed until Jacob Zuma has been removed from office, and Parliament is afforded an opportunity to elect a new President,” Mr Maimane said in a statement.

Public money

Mr Maimane added that South Africa could not afford to waste millions of public money for President Zuma to deliver the government’s programme of action for the coming year in his Sona when it was unlikely that he would remain the country’s leader much longer.

“It is no secret that there is a battle within the ANC and the national executive with each side holding starkly differing policies, ideological positions and plans of action. While Cyril Ramaphosa is the ANC President, Jacob Zuma remains President of South Africa, leaving the country not knowing which direction is being pursued,” he said.

Mr Maimane further called on the Speaker to act in the interests of all South Africans, and postpone Sona until the ANC leadership battle has been resolved.